Friday, March 11, 2011

Mapping the 2011 Japan Tsunami with NOAA Data

Any major event that creates a data set is likely to be graphically displayed by people across the globe. How that data is handled and translated to a visual system varies. Some are visually pleasing, some are easily understood, and some try to be more visually pleasing by neglecting visual legibility. Below are examples of maps that display just when you can expect your beach to feel the surge coming at 500 mph from across the ocean.

Notice in the last one above there are 3 distinct shades of blue, each presumably separating a single hour of time, along with dashed half hour lines and solid three hour increments.  A bit confusing.

The top map uses mostly warm colors to display intensity, but the delineation between hues is not great enough for the eye to discern the exact strength of the wave at any given location.

The middle map, by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration displays it in a traditional way, but it may be the most easily understood, while not being the most eye catching or visually stimulating.

Here is the data set I would guess most of these came from.

The data also has already been used in video form to show just how the ocean is churning.

Tom Harris

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