© 2016 IEEE. When working with large, multidimensional and multivariate data, science users are frequently interested in understanding variation in data, as opposed to the actual data values. Our work focuses on exploring how a simple statistical metric, the Coefficient of Variation (or Cv), can be used in several different ways to facilitate understanding variation in large data. As a statistical measure, it offers a key advantage over more widely accepted measures like standard deviation, namely to its ability to capture local variation properties. As a multidimensional projection operator, Cv is an effective way of reducing data size while preserving the key variational signal. Visualizations produced from Cv that target conveying variation in data are highly informative, especially compared to those produced with more widely known methods. We demonstrate these ideas within the context of a two-part application case study focusing on understanding long-Term trends in the the changes in precipitation and winds in large-scale climate model ensemble output.