Data Expo 2006

Sponsored by the Sections on Statistical Graphics, Statistical Computing,
and Statistics and the Environment.

The Data Exposition has now finished. The posters produced by the entrants in the competition are available here.

Cloud cover map from the Earth Observatory

The data set:

The data set is available for download here.
The data are geographic and atmospheric measures on a very coarse 24 by 24 grid covering Central America. The variables are: elevation, temperature (surface and air), ozone, air pressure, and cloud cover (low, mid, and high). With the exception of elevation, all variables are monthly averages, with observations for Jan 1995 to Dec 2000. These data were obtained from the NASA Langley Research Center Atmospheric Sciences Data Center (with permission; see important copyright terms below).

More details about the data, including descriptions of the variables, are available here.

Download the data as a gzipped tar ball or as a zip file.

There is also a flyer available.

The question:

The aim of the Data Expo is to provide a graphical summary of important features of the data set. This is intentionally vague in order to allow different entries to focus on different aspects of the data. For example, the focus can be on: the fact that the data are multivariate, or time-series, or spatial; or the fact that the data contain missing values; or the focus could even be on the process of exploring the data.

Some obvious general questions that could be answered are: What are the important relationships between the variables? Are there any important trends in the data? Are there any important groupings or clusters in the data? Are there any unusual locations or time periods in the data set?

How to Enter:

Submit a poster abstract for JSM 2006. The online abstract submission page is now live (this link allows you to register for JSM). Thorough instructions are also provided (this link is where you can submit your actual abstract). For submitting an abstract for the Data Expo, please use the following options:

  • Session Type: Topic Contributed
  • Session Subtype: Posters
  • Organiser: Paul Murrell -- Data Expo
  • Poster Topic: Graphics, visualization
  • Sponsor: Statistical Graphics
    The Data Expo is sponsored by the Sections on Statistical Graphics, Statistical Computing, and Statistics and the Environment, but you only get to choose one sponsor.
  • Do NOT tick either of the boxes for presenting the poster at the opening mixer or for moving the poster to another session.
  • We are still establishing what support there will be for plugging in laptops and will post that information here as soon as it is available.

Student entries and/or group entries are welcome. There is a single competition so student entries may wish to include a staff advisor. Educators may want to incorporate this competition as a class project.

The use of dynamic and/or interactive graphics is likely to be very useful, at least in the exploration of the data. This is encouraged, and we will attempt to provide support for laptops within the poster session so that dynamic/interactive graphics can be included in the poster presentation.

If you are thinking about entering, please send us a quick note so that we can keep you up to date with any updates in the data set or competition rules.

The Prize:

There will be first, second, and third prizes awarded to the best posters (as judged by a panel of experts). First prize consists of $1000 cash plus a set of NASA books, second prize is $500 and a set of books, and third prize is $200 plus a set of NASA posters. These will be awarded at the Statistical Graphics and Statistical Computing Sections Mixer at JSM 2006.

Important Dates:

Aug 10 2005:
Data released.

Sep 30 2005:
Data finalized.

Feb 1 2006:
Final date for submission of JSM poster abstracts (online; link TBA). Last day to enter the competition! (but you have until August 2006 to complete your submission)

Other Resources:

NASA provides a large number of images online and free of copyright which may be useful for decorating your poster (see, e.g., Great Images In NASA).


We thank the NASA Langley Research Center Atmospheric Sciences Data Center for providing the data and background information, and for donating the books and posters for prizes. Thanks in particular to Kathleen at ASDC User Services.

NASA copyright:

NASA have allowed us to use their data with the understanding that it will be used for this competition, and request that they receive a copy of all entries so that they have the opportunity to use the material as examples on the MY NASA DATA web site.


Please direct any questions about the data set or the competition to Paul Murrell or Tim Hesterberg.