The variables most commonly displayed on weather maps are atmospheric pressure, wind speed and direction, and surface temperature. But they are usually shown separately, not together on a single map. As a design exercise, we set the goal of finding out if it is possible to show all three variables (two 2D scalar fields and a 2D vector field) simultaneously such that values can be accurately read using keys for all variables, a reasonable level of detail is shown, and important meteorological features stand out clearly. Our solution involves employing three perceptual "channels", a color channel, a texture channel, and a motion channel in order to perceptually separate the variables and make them independently readable. We conducted an experiment to evaluate our new design both against a conventional solution, and against a glyph-based solution. The evaluation tested the abilities of novice subjects both to read values using a key, and to see meteorological patterns in the data. Our new scheme was superior especially in the representation of wind patterns using the motion channel, and it also performed well enough in the representation of pressure using the texture channel to suggest it as a viable design alternative.

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

SPIE Proceedings 8294, Visualization and Data Analysis


8294 No. 9


1 - 13

Conference Date

January 24, 2012



Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type

Conference Proceeding