Modern ocean flow simulations are generating increasingly complex, multi-layer 3D ocean flow models. However, most researchers are still using traditional 2D visualizations to visualize these models one slice at a time. Properly designed 3D visualization tools can be highly effective for revealing the complex, dynamic flow patterns and structures present in these models. However, the transition from visualizing ocean flow patterns in 2D to 3D presents many challenges, including occlusion and depth ambiguity. Further complications arise from the interaction methods required to navigate, explore, and interact with these 3D datasets. We present a system that employs a combination of stereoscopic rendering, to best reveal and illustrate 3D structures and patterns, and multi-touch interaction, to allow for natural and efficient navigation and manipulation within the 3D environment. Exploratory visual analysis is facilitated through the use of a highly-interactive toolset which leverages a smart particle system. Multi-touch gestures allow users to quickly position dye emitting tools within the 3D model. Finally, we illustrate the potential applications of our system through examples of real world significance.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

IEEE Oceans



Conference Date

September 19-22, 2011

Publisher Place

Kona, HI, USA



Document Type

Conference Proceeding


©2011 IEEE