Uncertainty in Geographic Data on Bivariate Maps: An Examination of Visualization Preference and Decision Making




Scholz, Ruojing W.
Lu, Yongmei

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Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute


Uncertainty exists widely in geographic data. However, it is often disregarded during data analysis and decision making. Proper visualization of uncertainty can help map users understand uncertainty in geographic data and make informed decisions. The study reported in this paper examines map users’ perception of and preferences for different visual variables to report uncertainty on bivariate maps. It also explores the possible impact that knowledge and training in Geographic Information Sciences and Systems (GIS) may have on map users’ decision making with uncertainty information. A survey was conducted among college students with and without GIS training. The results showed that boundary fuzziness and color lightness were the most preferred visual variables for representing uncertainty using bivariate maps. GIS knowledge and training was found helpful for some survey participants in their decision making using bivariate uncertainty maps. The results from this case study provide guidance for reporting uncertainty on bivariate maps, aiming at encouraging informed decision making.



bivariate map, uncertainty visualization, decision making, visual variable, geographic Information Sciences and Systems (GIS), Geography and Environmental Studies


Scholz, R. W., & Lu, Y. (2014). Uncertainty in geographic data on bivariate maps: An examination of visualization preference and decision making. International Journal of Geo-Information, 3(4), pp. 1180-1197.


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© 2014 The Authors.

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