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This visualizaton has beeen developed by the Open Water Foundation to illustrate how snowpack changes in water supply basins throughout Colorado in a water year, using SNODAS snowpack data. The goal is to quickly gain an understanding of both the absolute and relative magnitude of water supply throughout the State of Colorado.

The intent of this visualization is to dynamically visualize 3 separate variables across time. The visualization is configured to plot separate datasets as 'bubble' markers on the chart. These markers move across the chart to show 2 variables (x and y), while also varying in size, representing a third variable. Changes span a period of a water year with daily values. This visualization shows the absolute magnitude of snowpack (x-axis) and corresponding relative magnitude as percent of average (y-axis) from the dataset values. The size of the marker indicates the total SWE as for the current and all upstream local basins. Therefore, the largest marker in a color group indicates the most downstream local basin in that group. It is important to recognize that SNODAS data are not consistent across time because the algorithms used to estimate computed values has changed over time. However, this fact is ignored in visualization in order to illustrate the potential of the technique.

The choice of values for x and y axis could be altered to create other data visualizations and OWF welcomes feedback as input to creating new visualizations.

See more about Motion Charts.



The legend on the upper right side of the visualization doubles as a tool to select certain markers, grouped by color. In this case, the grouping is by River Forecast Center basin, and Northern Water system basins, Single-click on a legend symbol to select a basin to highlight. Use Ctrl-click to select additional basins.


Local Basin Selection:

The dropdown/search menu on the right side of the visualization (below the group selector) allows specific local basins to be selected. Markers can be toggled on or off. It is also possible to highlight specific markers on the visualization by clicking on them once (multiple markers can be selected in this way).


Toggle Annotations/Tracer:

The visualization defaults to not show tracers. Tracers can be toggled on, which will result in a line showing the path of a marker as it moves through time.


Time Slider:

The time slider at the bottom of the visualization is interactive. Drag the slider to move the visualization across points in time(*), or use the controls located below the time slider to play, pause, replay the visualization, or move the visualization forward/backward a day in the year. Clicking anywhere on the time scale will reposition the animation at that day. A vertical jump in the animation corresponds to a snowstorm that immediately increases the absolute and relative magnitude of snowpack. The position of markers tends to settle down in summer given that little additional accumulation occurs.

* Moving the slider across time too quickly will reflect in the tracers that track the data, and may result in spontaneous behavior through the display of the tracers.


Speed Slider:

Click and drag the Speed slider to change the speed at which the visualization will play.


Data Values/Interpolation:

At the bottom left of the visualization there is a data view area. Hovering over a marker will cause the associated data for the marker at the current display time to be shown the data view area. The visualization interpolates across all points of time to fill in data points in order to fluidly display the animation. However, the data view area will only display the raw data used as the input for the visualization. The units of time on the time slider are the same as the intervals for the input data. The visualization may be revised in the future to carry forward values.



The annotation view area below the visualization on the right displays data annotations that explain he data. The SNODAS visualization does not currently display annotations but these could be added to explain the dataset.


The input data for the visualization can be seen from by clicking on the Data tab. The source of data is listed in the Sources tab.


This visualizaton has been developed by the Open Water Foundation.

This visualization uses a template based on the Open Water Foundation variant of the "Gapminder" tool.

Source data for the visualization was downloaded from the CDSS SNODAS Tools data and further processed using TSTool software.