SimilarityExplorer: A visual inter-comparison tool for multifaceted climate data
Inter-comparison and similarity analysis to gauge consensus among multiple simulation models is a critical visualization problem for understanding climate change patterns. Climate models, specifically, Terrestrial Biosphere Models (TBM) represent time and space variable ecosystem processes, for example, simulations of photosynthesis and respiration, using algorithms and driving variables such as climate and land use. While it is widely accepted that interactive visualization can enable scientists to better explore model similarity from different perspectives and different granularity of space and time, currently there is a lack of such visualization tools. In this paper we present three main contributions. First, we propose a domain characterization for the TBM community by systematically defining the domain-specific intents for analyzing model similarity and by translating them to visualization-specific tasks. Then, we define a classification scheme that can be leveraged for combining multiple facets of climate model data in one integrated framework that allows scientists to perform multiple levels of comparison, by seamlessly switching between spatial and temporal perspectives. Finally, we present Similarity- Explorer, an exploratory visualization tool that facilitates similarity comparison tasks across both time and space through a set of coordinated multiple views. We present a detailed case study from three climate scientists who used our tool for a month for gaining scientific insights into model similarity. Their experience and results validate the effectiveness of our tool.