Interactive Visual Analysis within Dynamic Ocean Models


The many observation and simulation based ocean models available today can provide crucial insights for all fields of marine research and can serve as valuable references when planning data collection missions. However, the increasing size and complexity of these models makes leveraging their contents difficult for end users. Through a combination of data visualization techniques, interactive analysis tools, and new hardware technologies, the data within these models can be made more accessible to domain scientists. We present an interactive system that supports exploratory visual analysis within large-scale ocean flow models. The currents and eddies within the models are illustrated using effective, particle-based flow visualization techniques. Stereoscopic displays and rendering methods are employed to ensure that the user can correctly perceive the complex 3D structures of depth-dependent flow patterns. Interactive analysis tools are provided which allow the user to experiment through the introduction of their customizable virtual dye particles into the models to explore regions of interest. A multi-touch interface provides natural, efficient interaction, with custom multi-touch gestures simplifying the otherwise challenging tasks of navigating and positioning tools within a 3D environment. We demonstrate the potential applications of our visual analysis environment with two examples of real-world significance: Firstly, an example of using customized particles with physics-based behaviors to simulate pollutant release scenarios, including predicting the oil plume path for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster. Secondly, an interactive tool for plotting and revising proposed autonomous underwater vehicle mission pathlines with respect to the surrounding flow patterns predicted by the model; as these survey vessels have extremely limited energy budgets, designing more efficient paths allows for greater survey areas.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

Fall Meeting, American Geophysical Union (AGU)

Conference Date

Dec 3-7, 2012

Publisher Place

San Francisco, CA, USA


American Geophysical Union Publications

Document Type