What is Streamflow Drought? by USGS Vizlab

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) Vizlab created this scrolly-telling website to inform the public about streamflow drought and how it is monitored by the USGS. The website is set up so that each scroll frame has a plain-language description paired with an illustration or data visualization. The frames build on one another to explain how streamflow drought is calculated and how it affects humans and the environment. The data visualizations use open access data, highlighting an example of streamflow drought at one streamgage in Ohio.

Streamflow drought is characterized by unusually low streamflow levels. Streamflow is considered unusually low whenever streamflow drops below a certain threshold, as less water moves into and through streams. This information can inform water management, guide drought prediction, and help people use water more sustainably throughout the year.

The amount of flow in rivers across the U.S. varies throughout the year and across the country. Overall, historic USGS streamgage data show that late winter and early spring months (March through May) tend to have the highest flows, and late summer and early fall months (August through October) tend to have the lowest flows.
USGS drought science is improving our understanding of drought impacts on ecosystems, including the relationship between drought and wildfire risk; vegetation and land management; biological diversity and wildlife management; and streamflow.

The website was designed to work across platforms and with web-accessibility in mind, including features such as keyboard navigation through the material and aria labels that increase the ability for comprehension when using a screen reader.