Mapping the Drought of the Western U.S.

Kayaking for Conservation:  Using Mobile Mapping Technology to Visualize the Drought Stricken Western United States.

Using a Kayak and Mobile Mapping Gear to Create a ShoreView of the Great Salt Lake.

Replicating the work we have been doing to map the entire 1,200 miles of Puget Sound nearshore in the Pacific Northwest, Brian Footen, a conservationist and explorer, is expanding this work using Earthviews’ mobile mapping technology to help raise awareness about the historic drought that is impacting key waterways in the Western United States. 

Critical areas being mapped this Spring 2022 during Phase I of the project.

The map above shows the areas he will be mapping this Spring 2022.  Using cameras and scientific instruments mounted to a kayak, Brian will collect thousands of 360-degree panoramic images and water quality measurements at each location to create a comprehensive image-map of rivers and lakes impacted by the drought.  These maps, like StreetView’s for the water will be published at Free to the public the RiverViews and ShoreViews allow the user to navigate the areas and data from their desktop computer, mobile device or VR headset. 

Example of RiverView of Llano River, Texas.

This first phase of the project is to map smaller surveys of these areas. The mission is to generate interest and enthusiasm among stakeholders and volunteer mappers with the hope of getting others involved to help grow the views and raise awareness of the drought impacts on these critical rivers, lakes and reservoirs. Explore the areas to be mapped in more detail below.

Salt Lake, UT is at its lowest level ever – nearly 6 feet below its historical average – and scientists are worried it could dry up in the next decade. Survey area for the first phase of mapping includes 40 miles of the north nearshore of the Great Salt Lake.

Lake Tahoe, CA/NV is suffering from climate change effects like forest fires and temperature changes that are impacting lake clarity and water quality. The entire 70 plus miles shoreline of Lake Tahoe is scheduled to be mapped and published by this July.

Lake Mead, AZ/NV is the nation’s largest reservoir and, with Lake Powell, part of the drought impacted Colorado River system which supplies over 40 million people with drinking water and irrigation for a significant portion of U.S. agriculture.  Survey area for the first phase of mapping includes 17 miles of the nearshore past Hoover Dam.

Lake Powell, UT/AZ is fast approaching a critical level at which point its ability to create and supply hydroelectric power to people in over 6 states is in jeopardy. Like its sister reservoir, Lake Mead, this critical level is triggering water conservation requirements throughout the Southwestern U.S.  Survey area for the first phase of mapping the nearshore of the Lake Powell.

The Rio Grande, CO/NM/TX has undergone emergency conservation efforts by its stakeholders to help keep the river from drying up. Survey area for the first phase of mapping the nearshore of the Rio Grande near Taos New Mexico.