Waterviz is a multidisciplinary data visualization and sonification project involving the hydrologic sciences, visual arts, music, and information design. Hydrologic data, captured from a small watershed at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest using an array of environmental sensors, is transmitted to the internet and used to drive a computer model that calculates all components of the water cycle for the catchment in real time. These data, in turn, drive artistic visualizations and sonifications of the water cycle, reflecting the hydrologic processes occurring at that moment in time.

Collaborative Research: The Confluence of Music, Art and Science at Long Term Ecological Research Sites

With support from the National Science Foundation, a team of investigators from the University of New Hampshire, Hubbard Brook Research Foundation and Dartmouth College, in collaboration with investigators from the USDA Forest Service, are developing new tools in real-time data visualization and sonification. 

The major goal of this project is to encode high-volume and high-frequency ecological data in new ways in order to discover underlying patterns and processes. Online digital visualization and sonification tools will be developed to display multi-dimensional real-time ecological data generated from environmental sensor arrays at two Long Term Ecological Research sites. A novel partnership with neuroscientists will explore how stimulation of different neural circuitry in the human brain allows large datasets to be understood, perhaps in new ways. A current visualization tool, Waterviz, will be re-designed in collaboration with artists, neuroscientists, and computer scientists. Hydrologic data captured with sensors will drive a computer model that calculates all components of a water cycle in real time. These data in turn will drive artistic and musical simulations of the water cycle. The models will be used to test hypotheses that multi-sensory experiences simultaneously engage reasoning, visual, and acoustical brain centers such that large-scale patterns and processes are easier to apprehend; that neurological tools can provide a mechanistic understanding of improved comprehension; and that the engagement of artists directly in the research will stimulate new ideas and insights into complex problems. External evaluation of the project will determine whether artists and scientists are equitably engaged, whether new relationships result, and whether this process stimulates new ideas and insights.

Project timeline: August 1, 2015 – July 31, 2018