Ridgelines Plot by USGS Vizlab

Inspired by the style of a classic rock album, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Vizlab created this fully reproducible ridgeline chart to display 30 years of daily streamflow data for the Rio Grande River streamgage in New Mexico. Each ridgeline represents average daily streamflow in cubic feet per second for a single year, plotted as a white line on a black background. In each year, streamflow peaks around late spring and early summer, then gradually decreases and remains low throughout fall and winter. The ridgelines for all 30 years are stacked from top to bottom, showing both inter- and intra-annual variation in streamflow through time.

The USGS maintains and operates thousands of streamgages for the Nation that continuously monitor and measure water conditions, including streamflow. We used open streamgage data available at the USGS Water Data for the Nation (https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis), which provides streamflow, gage height, water temperature, and other water quality data for monitoring stations across the United States.

The goals of this chart were to highlight the use of USGS open data products with a creative twist, and to show users how to recreate the chart for any monitoring station across the United States using the reproducible code.