- The visualization of climate patterns is a major theme in cartography. Short-term
dramatic weather events such as hurricanes and tornado outbreaks are mapped and
displayed immediately in order to capitalize on the sensational nature of the events, and
to quickly and accurately convey the information to emergency workers and the general
public. Sustained weather events such as drought fail to capture widespread public
interest, even though the economic and social repercussions of a drought may rival or
exceed that of severe flooding or wind storms.
Drought occurs in almost all climate zones. It is considered a normal feature of a
region's climate and is not a rare or random event. Given the diversity of Oregon's
topography and weather patterns, the specific characteristics of drought vary from one
part of the state to the next. Despite this variability, the full impact of drought is largely
determined by political and economic factors as well as hydrologic and topographic
regimes of the region. The water availability in Oregon is essentially fully appropriated,
and its use heavily governed. Therefore, anthropogenic factors are as important as
natural factors when visualizing drought.
This research paper will introduce new tools and methods for visualizing long-term
weather events such as drought. Many variables must be included in order to
characterize an event as nebulous as drought. This research paper will show that by
utilizing advanced computer graphics software, many of these variables can be succinctly
and clearly displayed on a single map. This thematic map visualization research will
hopefully serve as a communication tool that may draw more attention to less spectacular
weather events such as drought, and in turn elicit adequate public response.
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