Visualisation techniques to support public interpretation of future climate change and land-use choices: a case study from N-E Scotland

Chen Wang*, David Miller, Iain Brown, Yang Jiang, Marie Castellazzi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mitigating and adapting to climate change includes a requirement to evaluate the role of future land uses in delivering robust integrated responses that are sensitive to local landscape contexts. In practice, this emphasises the need for community engagement, planning and inclusive decision-making. Community engagement may be potentially facilitated by the use of spatially explicit quantitative scenarios of land-use change in combination with interactive visualisation. This requires a coherent framework to integrate spatial data modelling, analytical capabilities and visualisation tools in a format that will also engage diverse public audiences. These challenges were explored with a case study of virtual landscapes from N-E Scotland that was used to test preferences for scenarios of future land use. Visualisations employed texture-based rendering rather than full photo-realistic rendering to facilitate interactivity and this provided additional scope for audiences to explore multiple future scenarios compared to the present landscape. Interactive voting in a virtual landscape theatre suggested preferences for visual diversity, good stewardship and perceived naturalness that should be considered in developing planned responses to change. Further investigation of preferences was conducted using interactive 3D features located within the landscape. Study findings are reviewed against objectives for inclusive engagement in the Digital Earth agenda and used to make further recommendations on the use of scenarios and visualisation tools. In particular, technical advances in user engagement need to be developed in conjunction with emerging good practice that addresses ethical, behavioural and inclusion issues so that the content is presented in as transparent and unbiased format as possible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)586-605
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Digital Earth
Issue number6
Early online date17 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2016


  • geographic information systems
  • knowledge exchange
  • land-use scenarios
  • Landscape visualisation
  • public participation

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