Monday, November 3, 2014

Visualising: at the heart of geographical representation

 Image above: An animated map of global wind and weather.


 Visualisations of interest

This posting is another opportunity to show some great visualisations to enhance student understanding and stimulate discussion on spatial technology. As mentioned on previous postings, an important skills of geography are visual and spatial literacy. Geographers love turning spatial data, statistics and information into visuals to make uncluttered sense of geographical happenings and phenomena. We are a very visual discipline - not only about the creation of visualisations such as graphs and maps but most importantly the interpretation and analysis of such representations. In the Australian Curriculum: Geography such skills are an important part of the Inquiry process i.e.

Inquiry Stage 2: Collecting, recording, evaluating and representing data

Inquiry Stage 3: Interpreting, analysing and concluding
Only by such interpretation and analysis of visualisations can geographers be problem solvers and decision makers based on geographical information and evidence.

Here are some sites to support this thinking:

* Mapping Ebola
Excellent case study on mapping Ebola to solve the developing problem. The website is the world’s leading source of reliable and authoritative news, views and analysis on information about science and technology for global development. Here is another interactive site mapping the distribution of Ebola.

GIS practitioners are volunteering time to map
This site also has a nice pdf/digital presentation to use in class.

* Spatial comparison site
 A great site to show spatial comparisons between countries.

* Map fight: This simple WebApp allows the user to compare areas that are hard to compare on a map or globe because of distance or the map projection. This site helps strengthen student's mental maps and their ability to make regional comparisons. 

* When Google Earth gets it wrong
 Amazing distortions shown on Google Earth. 

* A powerful visualisation of world population
 A dot for every person on Earth - growing in front of your eyes.

* Animated map of global wind and weather
 Seen in this visualisation are the dual menaces, Cyclone Hudhud and Typhoon Vongfong (as seen from ISS). This visualisation of global weather conditions is updated every three hours from supercomputer data projections.  Click on the 'earth' text in the lower left-hand corner to customize the display.  For examining the wind patterns and oceans currents, this is much more useful than Google Earth.

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