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Glyphs for Visualizing Uncertainty in Vector Fields
September 1996 (vol. 2 no. 3)
pp. 266-279

Abstract—Environmental data have inherent uncertainty which is often ignored in visualization. Meteorological stations and doppler radars, including their time series averages, have a wealth of uncertainty information that traditional vector visualization methods such as meteorological wind barbs and arrow glyphs simply ignore. We have developed a new vector glyph to visualize uncertainty in winds and ocean currents. Our approach is to include uncertainty in direction and magnitude, as well as the mean direction and length, in vector glyph plots. Our glyph shows the variation in uncertainty, and provides fair comparisons of data from instruments, models, and time averages of varying certainty. We also define visualizations that incorporate uncertainty in an unambiguous manner as verify visualization. We use both quantitative and qualitative methods to compare our glyphs to traditional ones. Subjective comparison tests with experts are provided, as well as objective tests, where the information density of our new glyphs and traditional glyphs are compared. The design of the glyph and numerous examples using environmental data are given. We show enhanced visualization, data together with their uncertainty information, that may improve understanding of environmental vector field data quality.

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Index Terms:
Verify visualization, wind profilers, doppler radar, wind barbs, icons.
Craig M. Wittenbrink, Alex T. Pang, Suresh K. Lodha, "Glyphs for Visualizing Uncertainty in Vector Fields," IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 266-279, Sept. 1996, doi:10.1109/2945.537309
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