Understanding perception of different urban thermal model visualizations


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Virginia Tech


While satellite-based remote sensing techniques are often used for studying and visualizing the urban heat island effect, they are limited in terms of resolution, view bias, and revisit times. In comparison, modern UAVs equipped with infrared sensors allow very fine-scale (cm) data to be collected over smaller areas and can provide the means for a full 3D thermal reconstruction over limited spatial extents. Irrespective of the data collection method, the thermal properties of cities are typically visually represented using color, although the choice of colormap varies widely. Previous cartographic research has demonstrated that colormap and other cartographic choices affect people's understanding. This research study examines the difference in map reading performance between satellite and drone-sourced thermal pseudo-color images for three map reading tasks, the impact of color map selection on map reading, and the potential benefits of adding shading to thermal maps using high-resolution digital surface models for improved interaction. Participants expressed a preference for the newly designed rainbow-style color map "turbo" and the FLIR "ironbow" colormap. However, user preferences were not strongly related to map reading performance, and differences were partly explained by the extra information afforded by multi-hue and shading-enhanced images.



colormaps, perception study, structure from motion, thermal maps, urban heat island