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Week 6: Drought’s Footprint
10-05-2014, 07:22 PM (This post was last modified: 10-05-2014 07:24 PM by zhiminl.)
Post: #11
RE: Week 6: Drought’s Footprint
I think this visualization is a very interesting vis that represent the moderate to drought in June of America.
I agree with u0862992’s idea that single color in one map will cause less confused and it will improve the user experience. however, the author of this vis don’t mention that what’s the meaning of the color. You could say that orange represent drought is intuitive but it’s better to have something to give us more information about the basic element of this vis.

The next thing that I want to say is that the vis is too big, the individual year’s information is easy to access but when you try to compare 1899 with 2012, the problem will occur. 1899 is on the bottom of this vis and the 2012 is on the top of this vis. Like most people mention above, the author may add some interaction function to improve the user experience
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10-05-2014, 10:03 PM
Post: #12
RE: Week 6: Drought’s Footprint
The goal of this visualization is to make a comparison between the areas under extreme or moderate droughts in the month of June over a period of 117 years, and I think the author has been very clever by choosing a multiple-maps visualization. The visualization could have been an interactive one with a facility to scroll through the years, but then we loose the effectiveness in making the comparisons. And since, the data to be presented is not very complex (it's only about showing the drought regions), it could be easily shown on a small map and still convey the information. One more aspect I like about this visualization is order in which the years have been placed, i.e. in groups of decades. Colors chosen for both, drought and non-drought regions also seems to be perfect.

Something that could have been added is giving some information on mouse hover. The author could have probably mentioned the number of counties that were affected.
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10-05-2014, 10:26 PM
Post: #13
RE: Week 6: Drought’s Footprint
Overall I find this visualization quite simple.
One thing that can definitely be improved in this visualization is to add interactive elements. Rather than stacking so many maps into a large graphic area, it is better to provide a year slider(as Khalid already pointed out) or may be a year selector to show the effect of drought during each year at a time in the United States.
It is tough to compare the drought percentage that occurred during all these years since it is impossible to view all the maps in a single screen.
The small year values labelled under each map does nothing to improve the visualization.
A more convenient approach would have been to show a larger version of the US map which would provide a more detailed overview of the areas and the severity of drought in each of them. While switching from one year to another, the drought severity transition between the years could be interpolated and this would have definitely helped in comparing the drought severity between the years.
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10-05-2014, 10:35 PM
Post: #14
RE: Week 6: Drought’s Footprint
This visualization from my point of view is very clustered and it fails to convey the data effectively. By using so many maps, it gets very daunting for the user to read and analyse the data. A better way would have been to show the areas affected by the drought in a time series chart. Or An interactive element like interpolation could be added in the same chart as mentioned by shishir.
Overall i feel this a very ineffective piece of visualization.
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10-05-2014, 10:39 PM
Post: #15
RE: Week 6: Drought’s Footprint
I like the visualization as it clearly conveys the information. I also like the single color scheme.
But there are few things which definitely can be improved:
1) The graph is taking too much information and conveys a very small point. This could have been covered with s small space too.
2) Its very tough to compare the extent of drought of various years.
3) The graph would have been more effective with X axis and Y axis.
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10-05-2014, 11:51 PM
Post: #16
RE: Week 6: Drought’s Footprint
This is a very nice visualization. We can both spacial information (where the drought is occurring), and we get a good sense of the overall percentage of the country in drought. I think it would be very good to have a chart that shows just the percentage of the country (by total area) that is in drought over the years. This way we can easily see a trend, if any. There may be a trend, but it's very hard to see from the maps since that requires that we visit each map in turn and do a bit of mental calculation and comparison.
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10-07-2014, 01:38 PM
Post: #17
RE: Week 6: Drought’s Footprint
What I find fascinating in this visualization is how use of small multiples can effectively facilitate comparison considering how difficult it is to spot changes, growth or decline of something over a complex surface like geographical map. Remember "eye over memory".

I believe the y-axis label is just perfect because the author has carefully drawn the labels on extreme left in bold (1900, 1910, 1920, .. 2010).

I think adding interactive slider for years and changing the spread dynamically is another nice way to visualize it.

Looking at this I can see how difficult it is to predict climate or any natural phenomenon, as there is almost no pattern to be found from data of over a century.
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10-13-2014, 01:02 PM
Post: #18
RE: Week 6: Drought’s Footprint
In opposition to what others have said, I don't feel it is so important, for this visualization, to quantify "moderate to extreme drought". The point of the visualization is to show how drought has changed over time. We don't need to know the definitions of "moderate to extreme drought" to visually recognize the change in drought patterns, as long as measurements over the time span were taken consistently.

We are comparing the situation across multiple years, not doing a lookup on values.

However, I would say that I found the organization of the y axis arbitrary. Having multiple rows of small multiple columns makes it difficult to detect patterns that occur over decade boundaries. For example, a trend that starts in 1978 and continues through 1982 might be difficult to detect because there are 3 data points on one row, and 2 on the other.

I think it would be more useful to use just a single row of small multiples, with a slider. Alternatively, it might be interesting to organize multiple rows by climate related events (El Nino, etc).
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