Ocean modeling, model assessment, geospatial time series, cluster ensembles, visual comparison, visual analytics
Abstract:Researchers assess the quality of an ocean model by comparing its output to that of a previous model version or to observations. One objective of the comparison is to detect and to analyze differences and similarities between both data sets regarding geophysical processes, such as particular ocean currents. This task involves the analysis of thousands or hundreds of thousands of geographically referenced temporal profiles in the data. To cope with the amount of data, modelers combine aggregation of temporal profiles to single statistical values with visual comparison. Although this strategy is based on experience and a well-grounded body of expert knowledge, our discussions with domain experts have shown that it has two limitations: (1) using a single statistical measure results in a rather limited scope of the comparison and in significant loss of information, and (2) the decisions modelers have to make in the process may lead to important aspects being overlooked. \ In this article, we propose a Visual Analytics approach that broadens the scope of the analysis, reduces subjectivity, and facilitates comparison of the two data sets. It comprises three steps: First, it allows modelers to consider many aspects of the temporal behavior of geophysical processes by conducting multiple clusterings of the temporal profiles in each data set. Modelers can choose different features describing the temporal behavior of relevant processes, clustering algorithms, and parameterizations. Second, our approach consolidates the clusterings of one data set into a single clustering via a clustering ensembles approach. The consolidated clustering presents an overview of the geospatial distribution of temporal behavior in a data set. Third, a visual interface allows modelers to compare the two consolidated clusterings. It enables them to detect clusters of temporal profiles that represent geophysical processes and to analyze differences and similarities between two data sets. \ This work is the result of a close collaboration with ocean modelers. They employed our concept to find aspects of improvement in a new version of the Ocean Model for Circulation and Tides (OMCT).