EPA Science Inventory

Visualizing Terrestrial and Aquatic Systems in 3-D

Citation:

Mckane, B., N. Stevenson-Molnar, P. Pettus, J. Halama, A. Brookes, B. Barnhart, AND K. Djang. Visualizing Terrestrial and Aquatic Systems in 3-D. Long Term Ecological Research All Scientists Meeting, Estes Park, CO, August 31 - September 02, 2015.

Description:

The environmental modeling community has a long-standing need for affordable, easy-to-use tools that support 3-D visualization of complex spatial and temporal model output. The Visualization of Terrestrial and Aquatic Systems project (VISTAS) aims to help scientists produce effective environmental science visualizations for analyzing their own data and for communicating their work to other scientists, decision makers, and the public (Cushing et al. 2015). VISTAS software can be freely downloaded from http://blogs.evergreen.edu/vistas/. Here we present a short video that demonstrates how VISTAS can be used for 3-D visualization of large spatial and temporal datasets generated by a process-based ecohydrological model, VELMA (Abdelnour et al. 2011). For example, for a USEPA community-based modeling project in the 209 km2 Mashel River Watershed in western Washington, VELMA is generating 100s of gigabytes of output describing how changes in climate and land use affect the capacity of this ecosystem to provide clean water, flood control, timber, fish and wildlife habitat and other services important to human well-being. Using 3-D images and animations of VELMA output, the video demonstrates how VISTAS can be used to better understand and communicate projected changes in snowpack and streamflow over the next century. This demonstration highlights the ability of VISTAS to simultaneously animate and integrate high-resolution 3-D maps and 2-D graphics describing spatial and temporal model output – for example, daily changes in soil moisture for 2012 vs. 2112, and how those changes influence daily streamflow. For the Mashel project, VISTAS 3-D maps, movies and graphics are being used to communicate complex model results in a visually intuitive way for local and regional stakeholders engaged in restoring stream and riparian habitats for recovery of endangered salmon populations.

Purpose/Objective:

The Visualization of Terrestrial and Aquatic Systems project (VISTAS) at Evergreen State College aims to help scientists produce effective environmental science visualizations for analyzing their own data and for communicating their work to other scientists, decision makers, and the public (http://blogs.evergreen.edu/vistas/). VISTAS is designed to address the environmental science community’s long-standing need for easy-to-use, freely available tools that support 3-D visualization of complex spatial and temporal model output. Ecological modelers with the EPA Western Ecology Division (WED) have collaborated with the Evergreen State team to build a short video that demonstrates how VISTAS 3-D visualizations can be used to analyze and communicate complex spatial and temporal datasets generated by a process-based watershed model, VELMA (Abdelnour et al. 2011, 2013). Using VELMA output for the 209 km2 Mashel River Watershed in western Washington, the video demonstrates how VISTAS can translate gigabytes of model output into easy-to-understand 3-D animations that intuitively convey how projected changes in climate during the next century will impact snowpack, soil moisture and streamflow. The video also explains how EPA-WED is using VISTAS 3-D maps, movies and graphics to communicate VELMA output in a visually intuitive way for local and regional stakeholders engaged in restoring stream and riparian habitats for recovery of endangered salmon populations in the Mashel Watershed.

URLs/Downloads:

ABSTRACT_MCKANE_LTER-ASM_8-29-15.PDF   (PDF,NA pp, 66.159 KB,  about PDF)

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (PRESENTATION/ABSTRACT)
Completion Date: 09/02/2015
Record Last Revised: 09/23/2015
Record Created: 09/23/2015
Record Released: 09/23/2015
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 309391

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LAB

WESTERN ECOLOGY DIVISION

ECOLOGICAL EFFECTS BRANCH