The Design Challenge is an annual one-day competition hosted by the UW–Madison, Cartography Lab. Cartographers and designers teamed up with domain experts to explore new visualizations of a multidimensional spatio-temporal dataset of North American fossil records.
My group focused on the the relationships between megafauna (mammoths and bison) and the abundance of grasslands. To visualize this relationship over 20,000 years, our group decided to make a bivariate 3D model (described below).
This conceptual model represents the North American landscape. We used stacked cubes to represent time in 2,000 year intervals. The tower of cubes depicts a timeline from past to present. We then used a bivariate color scheme to show the abundance of grasslands at a threshold of 20 percent and the presence or absence of megafuana. The cubes were then symbolized using this scheme. The model is meant to be pulled apart like legos to see the inter-workings across the landscape. The second and third images detail the internal structure, particularly at site four. The final model shows a top-down perspective. This perspective allows the viewer to see the timeline and color scheme from above.