Real-Time Data Visualizations: A 21st Century Confluence of Art, Music and Science at Ecological Research Sites
- Multi-sensory experiences such as those evoked by a new generation of data visualizations and sonifications will simultaneously engage the reasoning, visual and acoustical centers of the viewer’s brain, and make pattern and process in large ecological data sets easier to apprehend, providing a foundation for new discoveries.
- Neurobiological tools and theory can provide a mechanistic understanding for this increased understanding of pattern and process in ecological data.
- The process of engaging artists and scientists from different disciplines in a discrete and focused project will stimulate new ideas and insights to better address complex environmental problems.
(1) Workshop: A two day workshop will be convened at Hubbard Brook, in North Woodstock, NH in October 2015 to convene a select group of scientists, artists, educators, and computer scientists to discuss the grand challenge of authentically integrating the Arts and Sciences, key ecological and societal issues at long term ecological research sites, and prioritization of features for new visualizations and sonifications.
(2) The Waterviz: A Water Cycle Visualization and Sonification Tool: We will redesign the “Waterviz” based on expert input received at the Workshop and an immersive artist-in-residence program for our artist and musician at our two sites: Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, NH and HJ Andrews Experimental Forest, OR.
(3) Cognitive Science Questions:
Neuroscience: We will implement cognitive neuroscience-based evaluation of Waterviz visualizations, sonifications, and interactive features using low-cost EEG (Emotiv Insight headset), and we will extend the scope of previous cognitive neuroscience evaluation strategies to include information display via sonification (Kramer et al. 2010; Lazar et al. 2013; Degara et al. 2015) thereby evaluating multi-modal approaches to information display (Rimland et al. 2013).
Evaluations: The Waterviz evaluation will be divided into two phases: project process and project products. The evaluation of the project’s process will focus on the research approach and the participation and activities of the project personnel. The key process goals to be evaluated are whether (1) the process of developing the visualization and sonification tools will engage both artists and scientists in a collaboration that builds new, meaningful relationships between members from different disciplines; and (2) this collaborative process will stimulate new ideas and/or insights among project team members about complex datasets, ecological processes, and/or the complexities of multiple ecosystem stressors. The key product goals are to assess (1) if and how this project is successful at intellectually integrating the Arts into the scientific process and (2) whether new ideas, insights, or discoveries result from this integration
(4) Broader Impacts: The project will advance STEM education and increase public scientific literacy and public engagement by developing web-based tools that communicate environmental data from real places in real time. Toward that end, we will involve educators and science communicators in the early design phases of the Waterviz (i.e., October 2015 workshop). The redesigned Waterviz will provide a platform for engagement with the Next Generation Science Standards for education in non-traditional ways.
About the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest and LTER
The Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest (HBEF) is a 3,160 hectare reserve located in the White Mountain National Forest operated by the USDA Forest Service, near Woodstock, New Hampshire. The on-site research program is dedicated to the long-term study of forest and associated aquatic ecosystems. It has produced some of the most extensive and longest continuous data bases on the hydrology, biology, geology and chemistry of a forest and its associated aquatic ecosystems.
Hubbard Brook scientists pioneered the small watershed approach, which transformed the study of forests by using whole watersheds as living laboratories. This ground-breaking approach fostered many new discoveries beneficial to both science and society.
Hubbard Brook scientists discovered acid rain in North America by taking meticulous, long-term measurements of rain and snow. Scientists continue to document acid rain’s damaging effects and track recovery linked to pollution reduction efforts.
Learn more at http://www.hubbardbrook.org
Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest
Overview: The Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest (HBEF) is a 3,160 hectare reserve located in the White Mountain National Forest operated by the USDA Forest Service, near Woodstock, New Hampshire. The on-site research program is dedicated to the long-term study of forest and associated aquatic ecosystems.
History: The HBEF was established by the USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station in 1955 as a major center for hydrologic research in New England. In the early 1960’s, Dr. F. Herbert Bormann and others proposed the use of small watersheds to study element cycling. In 1963, the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study (HBES) was initiated by Bormann and Drs. Gene E. Likens and Noye M. Johnson, then on the faculty of Dartmouth College, and Dr. Robert S. Pierce of the USDA Forest Service. They proposed to use the small watershed approach at Hubbard Brook to study linkages between hydrologic and nutrient flux and cycling in response to natural and human disturbances, such as air pollution, forest cutting, land-use changes, increases in insect populations and climatic factors.Research Topics: Vegetation structure and production; dynamics of detritus in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems; atmosphere-terrestrial-aquatic ecosystem linkages; heterotroph population dynamics; effects of human activities on ecosystems.
Special thanks to the entire Hubbard Brook team, the USDA Forest Service, Dr. Lindsey Rustad, Hydrologist Mark Green, Sr. Researcher Tammy Wooster, Amey Bailey, and Mary Martin.