Colorado mountains
From Long-Term Data to Understanding: Toward a Predictive Ecology
2015 LTER ASM Estes Park, CO - August 30 - September 2, 2015

3D Scientific Visualization (Terrain Mapping) for ecological and environmental research and outreach.

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Topography is a key driver of ecological processes, but complex topography remains difficult to study in spite of relatively recent advances in satellite technology, LiDAR, remote sensing and computational modeling.  Visualizing data in 3D might help solve scientific problems such as studying complex topography. We will bring together researchers who study ecological processes in complex landscapes and who believe that visualizing their data in 3D might help solve a scientific problem they are working on. During the working group, scientists who have also been working to visualize their data or model results, and/or communicate their research findings to a wide audience will present visualizations they have created and talk about how they use those visualizations both in their own science and in presenting their results to others.  We invite, also, researcher participants who think they would find 3D scientific visualization useful but are not currently using any; these researchers will articulate their desired need for 3D visualization. We will compare and contrast existing tools for 3D scientific visualization and visual analytics, and share our experiences.  We anticipate that scientists will present visualizations created both with GIS tools and other kinds of scientific visualization software.
The focus of this WG is Scientific Visualization (as opposed to Information Visualization or GIS).  Scientific Visualization is distinguished from Information visualization (InfoVis) in that the objects visualized have a direct relationship to real-world objects, e.g., a 3D topographic map of a landscape, with nitrogen fixation displayed directly on that map.   InfoVis focuses on more abstract data, aims to show the structure of information as with charts or networks and typically deals with nonnumeric, nonspatial, and high-dimensional data.  

This workshop will complement the LTER GIS Working Group workshop, in that specific examples of current applications will be highlighted and featured.  We also include in our scope applications that are not map-based, such as stereographics and volume extrusion.

Expected outcomes of this working group include (but we hope are not limited to) the following:

1.        A jointly-authored paper comparing current approaches to 3D scientific visualization for ecology,

2.       Practical advice for participants:

a.       For those who already do 3D visualizations,  suggestions on how to improve the visualizations they are already creating (either with a better visual design or more appropriate software), and

b.      For those who do not do, but think they might like to start, practical advice on how to get started with creating 3D visualizations, including how to download or acquire and learn how to use the software presented.

Documents, including an agenda, participant list, post-ASM report, etc., for this working group can be found at:

Susan Stafford
Judith Cushing
Kirsten Winters
Theresa Valentine
Number of 2 hour sessions requested: 
Working Group Reports
Final reports: 
Room Assignment: 
Longs Peak Diamond West (Capacity 100)