Authors: Le Liu, Alexander Boone, Ian Ruginski, Lace Padilla, Mary Hegarty, Sarah H. Creem-Regehr, William B. Thompson, Cem Yuksel, Donald H. House
Abstract: Data ensembles are often used to infer statistics to be used for a summary display of an uncertain prediction. In a spatial context, these summary displays have the drawback that when uncertainty is encoded via a spatial spread, display glyph area increases in size with prediction uncertainty. This increase can be easily confounded with an increase in the size, strength or other attribute of the phenomenon being presented. We argue that by directly displaying a carefully chosen subset of a prediction ensemble, so that uncertainty is conveyed implicitly, such misinterpretations can be avoided. Since such a display does not require uncertainty annotation, an information channel remains available for encoding additional information about the prediction. We demonstrate these points in the context of hurricane prediction visualizations, showing how we avoid occlusion of selected ensemble elements while preserving the spatial statistics of the original ensemble, and how an explicit encoding of uncertainty can also be constructed from such a selection. We conclude with the results of a cognitive experiment demonstrating that the approach can be used to construct storm prediction displays that significantly reduce the confounding of uncertainty with storm size, and thus improve viewers’ ability to estimate potential for storm damage.