Presidential Forum
26th Conference on Interactive Information and Processing Systems (IIPS) for Meteorology, Oceanography, and Hydrology


Supporting operational weather forecasting with Google Earth

Andy Cox, The Weather Channel, Atlanta, GA; and R. Lucksinger and D. Eck

The Weather Channel™ (TWC) in Atlanta, Georgia maintains the Global Forecast Center (GFC), a round-the-clock weather forecast operation that is responsible for all global weather forecasts appearing on TWC television, World Wide Web, and mobile platforms and partner media platforms (like MSN and Yahoo). GFC meteorologists monitor a wide variety of data to assist their forecasting efforts, including radar, satellite, gridded forecasts, surface observations, comparison of short-term forecast to observation, model trends, checkpoint forecasts, airport delays, snowfall and rainfall estimates, comparison of forecast to climatological norms or extremes, and many other internal and external (for example NOAA and NWS) data sources are used. However, data in multiple formats across a variety of sources is often difficult to comprehend and subsequently assimilate into forecasts.

Over the last several years, TWC has aggregated much of this data into a significant and rich set of graphical and information layers presented using Google Earth. The ability to plot, label and geonavigate point data is fully exploited as are the ability to drape and overlay navigated imagery with rich color palettes, varying levels of transparency, and elevations or heights. Point callouts are very elaborate and data rich and take advantage of rich text formatting, in-line hyperlinks, advanced visualization techniques such as sparklines, and other compact data presentation methods. Forecasters readily adapt to this newer tool because the interface is intuitive, centralized, scalable, and fast. From its use, they can prepare better and more informed forecasts and forecast changes and are more quickly aware of forecast tracking errors and other short-term surprises that arise in a typical shift.

In this presentation we will demonstrate our current use of Google Earth layers that support The Weather Channel Global Forecast Center and also discuss future goals and directions of this useful subsystem including more advanced techniques used in Google Earth visualizations.

Recorded presentation

Joint Session 8, Virtual Globe technology and applications Part II
Thursday, 21 January 2010, 11:00 AM-11:45 AM, B218

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