What the Heck is a Tree Ring?

What the Heck is a Tree Ring?

This week’s #MakeoverMonday challenge was a great one!  Andy Kriebel gave us a “simple” data set dealing with with Global Warming and temperature anomalies.  It really is “simple”. It is just year and temperature.  However, these are the data sets I find the most challenging.  There is not a lot to work with, so it is time to get creative.

I started out my Sunday with a massive paint job ahead of me.  Here I am painting trim, painting doors, and my Twitter is blowing up!  I made the mistake of looking!

  • Rody Zakovich – beautiful line chart with great annotations (someone read all the data documentation!)
  • Andy Kriebel – flat out kills it (as usual) with like 12 charts, including a radar chart!  What?!
  • David Pires – awesome area panel/trellis chart
  • Rob Radburn – you should just be called the master of lines!  Seriously, WWRRD?
  • Alejandro Martínez – really nice bars and heat map!

There were lots of other great submissions too!  This was the most impressive #MakeoverMonday week by far.  Everyone definitely ate their Wheaties.

While I was painting, I was thinking about the viz.  Why did I peak?  What if I try and replicate Adam E McCann’s concentric circles from his Game of Thrones viz?

Disclaimer:  I really don’t like radial anything!

I really don’t.  I think you get a lot of oohs and aahs with radial stuff, but it takes a much longer time for our brains to process the information.  I think the line, area, bar and heat maps tell this story much better.  But nevertheless, I was on a mission to try a figure out what the heck Adam did in his viz and what is a parametric equation?  Thankfully, Adam posted some HowTos to help us mere mortals understand what he did.

I downloaded his Excel data file from his Millions to Billions post and started modifying it with the global warming data.  I didn’t have to do a lot to it.  I added my data to the reference table and copied down the formulas.  I realized that I needed to add one more point to each circle to close the circle.  I copied all the Circle IDs with the value 1 and pasted them at the bottom with Circle ID 61.

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Needs another point
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Point added

At this point all my circles are on top of each other.  I wanted them to be concentric circles starting with 1850 and expanding out to 2016.

So I consulted the Game of Thrones viz and saw that Adam created the concentric circles by multiplying the X/Y coordinates by the ID field from the data file.  It really seems like he knew what he was doing when he structured this data!  So I tried to replicate this.

2016-05-16_13-36-59I replaced my X coordinate with the new X2 field and got this spherical looking thing.  I knew I still needed to replace Y with Y2, but I couldn’t help share the result.  I only hesitated for a few seconds to see if I should use this in my viz.  But it was bad enough that I doing something radial, lets not get crazy!  I replaced my Y coordinate and now had some nice concentric circles by  month.

Decade Trim
Decade Trim
Detail Calc
Detail Calc

However, I wanted to be able to look at this by Decade or Year too.  I setup a parameter and some calcs to switch the Detail level for the time series.

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Axis Suffix

This was all working, but I was really just left with a bunch of circles and it didn’t tell the story for me.  I added a nice line chart using the same time detail calcs, but spruced it up with a polygon pill dual axis.  I added a suffix to the axis for degrees Celsius.

I still needed more to tie to rings together with the line chart so I created a Pooja Gandhi inspired highlight label on the circle ID of zero.

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Value Label
Time Label
Time Label
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Highlight Labels

Then I spruced the whole thing up with fonts, colors, text, etc. I am not sure what you would call this type of chart, but Josh has a great suggestion. I am going with Tree Ring!

Thanks for reading. Click the GIF to launch the Interactive version.
Tree Ring (1)

5 thoughts on “What the Heck is a Tree Ring?

  1. Debbie Crahen

    This is multi tasking at its finest!

  2. solasa

    Hi Adam,

    thanks for sharing this post, i want to know how did you work on raw data. You mentioned that references from millions to billions is used.But i want to know how did you do it.I downloaded the data from http://vizwiz.blogspot.com/p/makeover-monday-challenges.html ,any suggestions how did you do it .Please share steps you followed for global warming raw data.

    1. Adam Crahen

      Hi Solasa-

      You can download the raw data here

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