I'm working on a visualisation of weather, including wave heights. The source data is from a WaveWatch 3 model, and I'm using GeoServer 2.7 (with NetCDF and dynamic colormap extensions) to do the rendering. My question relates to how to best represent that data to users who have domain expertise (e.g. commercial shipping / deep water fishing / Navy) but not much numerical forecasting expertise.
The use of the data isn't (completely) known, and will vary by user. One example is that training for helicopters or aircraft might not be allowed above seas that are above some (specified) height. Alternatively, it might be some relative indication with a visualisation over time (e.g. so fishing can occur in the smoother water to the west, before moving to the east after that area settles).
The end result will be WMS, which will be rendered above the basemap (with opacity that is user selectable from 0 to 100%). The basemap is user selectable on the client side and I have no way to know what the basemap colour will be (best guess: some solid colour for deep ocean, perhaps blue, white or black).
There is a good question (and some excellent answers) on an appropriate colour-ramp for DEM, which was informative. However most of the answers for that were related to making the terrain "look right" (e.g. with hill shading), which isn't really appropriate for something like wave height.
My priority is to communicate the weather conditions first, and to look good (as a close) second.
My question is: what is an appropriate wave height colour ramp? If there was an accepted international standard (or some fairly common national standard) I would likely prefer that. Failing that, I'd go with accepted designs for this kind of visualisation.