I recently saw a 3-D animation of modelled changes in global ocean salinity and water temperature. The detailed representation of the Agulhas Current leakage caught my eye. The animation, showing ocean temperature at a number of depths, depicted the advection by ocean eddies of warm surface water to the depths. These eddies march in a northwest direction across the South Atlantic. No amount of prior reading conveyed the essence of this phenomenon like this animation did. This transformation of a complex mathematical model into an understandable visualisation is truly impressive.
Andy Hogg and his colleagues’ collaboration with the ANU Vizlab will be coming to a YouTube channel near you. If you can’t wait, have a look at the showreel of impressive images and animations on the monitor in the foyer of the Leonard Huxley Building.
The representation of data beyond tables and raw datasets was something that never really interested me. This ocean animation really turned that view around. For my research, I am analysing data in a serious manner for the first time in my life. I need to transform this data into a plausible story about the natural world from which it was sampled. It is obvious now that there is a valuable role for concise graphical representations. A glance at a well-constructed image can cause new questions to pop up, old certainties to become frustratingly chimeral and complex ideas to be explained to a wide audience.