Visualization Vednesdays: Art and science

Visualization Vednesdays highlights graphics and movies created by professional scientists and explains the science behind the visual. I’ll be focusing on physical oceanography cause they be my peeps, but if you know of another great ocean visualization please send it my way. But, there are some rules. These videos have to be made by the researchers themselves. No graphics department, just the pure creativity of scientists. Because really, who doesn’t enjoy beautiful things?

It’s not Wednesday, but I am going to post this anyway!

Neil Banas is an oceanographer at the University of Washington*.  He also make incredible INTERACTIVE visualizations of biophysical processes.  There are so many he just gets an entire post.

Check out this schematic of a nutrient-phytoplankton-zoology model.  Even better, click on pic and you can play with all the models!  Adjust how much nitrogen, light, vertical mixing, etc. your sea beasties get to determine whether they survive or perish!! By adjusting these parameters, you can change how much nutrients N go into the system, how many phytoplankton P and zooplankton Z there are,  and finally how much detritus D is produced by these critters dying.  The models are controlled by a set of mathematical rules and connections, which are broken down into their most basic form here.


Like coastal circulation? Want to see where water goes? Then he has flowWeaver. Designed for output from a regional model of Puget Sound and coastal Washington, the simple GUI is a beautiful thing.

And finally, the funnest model of all to play with, the Okubo swarming model. Make your zooplankton attack the white attractor!  Give ’em coffee jitters with excitation. Make them hungover and sluggish by adjusting the damping.


Who knew zooplankton were so much fun?

* Disclaimer: Neil and I went to grad school together, which is how I know about his work.  His defense was one of the most beautiful presentations I have ever seen.