visualizing (mapping) the depth & elevation of Puget Sound

Having survived the “greatest storm since…” that wasn’t, I used my unexpected access to electricity and the internet to develop a few maps of Puget Sound. My experience with rasters is limited, at best, but so many visually-stunning QGIS map examples around the web have piqued my interest over the last few months. Also, QGIS makes working with rasters extremely easy and intuitive.


For this mapping exercise, I downloaded a wonderful raster from the UW’s School of Oceanography.  Playing around with this was pretty fun. The first map ‘depth’ shows where Puget Sound is deepest (the darker areas). With these colors, the map almost looks like a watercolor painting.



Getting more creative and interested in lower Puget Sound near the Nisqually Delta, I came up with the following intriguing visualization:

pugetlowI like how this map shows the lower Puget Sound meeting land, slowly disappearing as the elevation gains. Here, everything above 400 feet is white, to focus on the contrast at lower elevations near and below sea level. Notably, everything below 800 feet is also a very dark blue.

With these parameters (see table of contents in map), the Rainier Valley really pops out in South King County. The Port of Tacoma is also interesting when viewed through this lens.

View the full hi-res map here.



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