Visualizing 2D Probability Distributions from EOS Satellite Image-Derived Data Sets: A Case Study


Maps of biophysical and geophysical variables using Earth Observing System (EOS) satellite image data are an important component of Earth science. These maps have a single value derived at every grid cell and standard techniques are used to visualize them. Current tools fall short, however, when it is necessary to describe a \emph{distribution} of values at each grid cell. Distributions may represent a frequency of occurrence over time, frequency of occurrence from multiple runs of an ensemble forecast or possible values from an uncertainty model. We identify these ``distribution data sets" and present a case study to visualize such 2D distributions. Distribution data sets are different from multivariate data sets in the sense that the values are for a single variable instead of multiple variables. Data for this case study consists of multiple realizations of percent forest cover, generated using a geostatistical technique that combines ground measurements and satellite imagery to model uncertainty about forest cover. We present two general approaches for analyzing and visualizing such data sets. The first is a pixel-wise analysis of the probability density functions for the 2D image while the second is an analysis of features identified within the image. Such pixel-wise and feature-wise views will give Earth scientists a more complete understanding of distribution data sets. See for additional information.


The IEEE Visualization 2001 paper is available.

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