VisualComplexity is a website that collects visualizations of complex networks. The project aims to display the results of visualization methods used in different disciplines to stimulate the creation of new visualizations and new visualization approaches.
Example categories include food webs, knowledge networks, social networks, and art.
An online tool for visualizing networks on the internet or in Amazon.com’s database is TouchGraph. For example, the related sales network of Panarchy editted by Gunderson and Holling or the google network of Resilience Science.
Martin Kemp writes in Nature – Science in culture: Inventing an icon
Any public campaign benefits from having an iconic image — something that captures the essence of the message and engraves it indelibly on our memories. But it is almost impossible to predict which images will actually stick, so creating one on demand is extraordinarily difficult. …
Even so, finding an iconic image was one of the goals of a meeting, Changing the Climate, held in Oxford, UK, on 11 and 12 September. Researchers and practitioners of the visual, literary, musical and performing arts came together to publicize the predicted perils of climate change, and there was much talk about a memorable image that would encapsulate the initiative…
The data must come from the best science available, but the presentation for maximum impact is a matter of invention in art and design. Of the images produced by the scientists, one in particular seemed to have the potential to combine iconicity with complexity. This is the ‘Tipping Points Map’ devised by Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany and research director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia, UK. This global map, shown here, outlines what Schellnhuber has identified as regions where the balance of particular systems has reached the critical point at which potentially irreversible change is imminent, or actually occurring.
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Navin Ramankutty, from the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment at University of Wisconsin, has developed a Global Land Use Database that allows people to download global land datasets they have developed as either gridded maps or tabular data.
The data includes:
Population density: 1990, 1995
Potential natural vegetation
Cropland extent from 1700 to 1992
Grazing land extent in 1992
Built-up land extent in 1992
18 major crops extent in 1992
Land suitability for cultivation
NASA has done a wonderful visualization of the 2005 hurricane season showing the named storms from June 1 up until Oct 17 (missing Alpha and only getting the start of Wilma).
It reveals how weather patterns (fast variables) are structured by ocean temperatures (a slower variable) along with the storm paths.
Identifying changes in slow variables is an important part of managing for resilience. For a quick introduction to this idea see Lance Gunderson’s short 1999 article Resilient management: comments on “Ecological and social dynamics in simple models of ecosystem management”.
Gapminder is a Swedish NGO that has produced a variety of visualizations of Human Development data for the web.
They have some very nicely done animations of changes in human development over time, including some visualizations of how different nations are on track (or not) to meet the Millenium Development Goals.