Representing Flow Patterns by Using Streamlines with Glyphs


Most professional wind visualizations show wind speed and direction using a glyph called a wind barb in a grid pattern. Research into flow visualization has suggested that streamlines better represent flowpatterns but these methods lack a key property - unlike the wind barb, they do not accurately convey the wind speed. With the goal of improving the perception of wind patterns, and at least equaling the quantitative quality of wind barbs, we designed two variations on the wind barb and designed a new quantitative glyph. All of our new designs space glyph elements along equally spaced streamlines. To evaluate these designs, we used a North American mesoscale forecast model. We tested the ability of subjects to determine direction and speed using two different densities each of three new designs as well as the classic wind barb. A second experiment evaluated how effectively each of the designsrepresented wind patterns. The results showed that the new design is superior to the classic, but they also showed that the classic barb can be redesigned and substantially improved. We suggest that flowpatterns with integrated glyphs may have widespread application in flow visualization.

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics


19, Issue 8





Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type

Journal Article