What Data Type Does the USGS Streamer Program Use?


Angela Bailey

What Data Type Does the USGS Streamer Program Use?

The USGS Streamer Program is a powerful tool used by hydrologists and scientists to access and analyze streamflow data. This program uses a specific data type called the USGS Real-Time Data format, commonly known as RTD.

Understanding the USGS Real-Time Data Format

The USGS Real-Time Data format is a standardized way of representing streamflow measurements collected by the USGS. It provides real-time access to water data from more than 13,500 monitoring stations across the United States. This data includes streamflow rates, water levels, precipitation, and other related information.

The RTD format is designed to be easily readable by both humans and machines. It follows a structured format that includes various fields such as station identification number, timestamp, parameter codes, and measured values. These fields are separated by specific delimiters for efficient parsing and processing.

Advantages of Using the USGS Real-Time Data Format

  • Consistency: The RTD format ensures consistency in data representation across all monitoring stations. This allows scientists to compare and analyze streamflow data from different locations easily.
  • Real-time Updates: The use of real-time data enables hydrologists to monitor current conditions accurately.

    They can make informed decisions regarding flood warnings, water supply management, and environmental assessments.

  • Data Integrity: The USGS has stringent quality control measures in place to ensure the accuracy of the collected data. By using the RTD format, users can trust that they are accessing reliable information.
  • Data Accessibility: The USGS Streamer Program provides a user-friendly interface for accessing the RTD format data. It allows users to search for specific monitoring stations, view historical trends, and export data for further analysis.

Working with USGS Streamer Program

The USGS Streamer Program offers multiple methods to access and utilize the RTD format data. One common approach is through the use of web services, which enable users to retrieve data programmatically. These web services provide a simple way to integrate real-time streamflow information into other applications or systems.

Additionally, the USGS Streamer Program offers interactive maps and visualizations that allow users to explore streamflow data visually. These features help scientists identify patterns, trends, and anomalies in streamflow measurements.


The USGS Streamer Program uses the USGS Real-Time Data format (RTD) to provide access to real-time streamflow information. This structured format ensures consistency and data integrity across thousands of monitoring stations nationwide. The program’s user-friendly interface and various features make it an invaluable tool for hydrologists and scientists working on water resource management and research.

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