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International Journal for Uncertainty Quantification

Impact factor: 1.000

ISSN Print: 2152-5080
ISSN Online: 2152-5099

Open Access

International Journal for Uncertainty Quantification

DOI: 10.1615/Int.J.UncertaintyQuantification.2012003966
pages 143-156

VISUALIZING UNCERTAINTY IN PREDICTED HURRICANE TRACKS

Jonathan Cox
Clemson University, 100 McAdams Hall, Clemson, SC 29634
Donald House
Clemson University, 100 McAdams Hall, Clemson, SC 29634
Michael Lindell
Texas A&M University, 3137 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843

ABSTRACT

The error cone is a display produced by the National Hurricane Center in order to present its predictions of the path of a hurricane. While the error cone is one of the primary tools used by officials, and the general public, to make emergency response decisions, the uncertainty underlying this display can be easily misunderstood. This paper explores the design of an alternate display that provides a continually updated set of possible hurricane tracks, whose ensemble distribution closely matches the underlying statistics of a hurricane prediction. We explain the underlying algorithm and data structures, and demonstrate how our displays compare with the error cone. Finally, we review the design and results of a user study that we conducted as a preliminary test of the efficacy of our approach in communicating prediction uncertainty.