Perceiving Internal Climate Variability: Signaling Change through Animation Diminishes Visual Sensitivity
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Description: Stimuli, materials, data, and analysis scripts for: Perceiving Internal Climate Variability: Signaling Change through Animation Decreases Performance (under review) by Witt, Szafir, Labe, & Barnes. Abstract: Internal climate variability poses a challenge for studying and predicting climate change. Scientists commonly communicate internal climate variability by displaying dozens of individual ensemble projections, such as presenting several maps juxtaposed with each other or animating changes over time. While traditional visualization heuristics advise against the use of animation, animated maps remain popular in climate change analysis and communication, and the visual system is highly tuned to changes in optical information. The scales and complexity of climate data may make animated maps a useful tool for investigating changes in the data. This study investigates whether animating rather than juxtaposing temporal sequences of climate maps improves how well people detect internal climate variability. Participants judged the similarity of maps that were presented juxtaposed with each other in a small multiples configuration or presented sequentially in an animation. Participants were more sensitive to the overall variation between maps when the maps were juxtaposed. We additionally investigate potential visual features that may explain differences in performance to support future studies. Our findings confirm design heuristics regarding animation in a real-world context and offer insight into more effective climate communication.