The Power of Visualization for Understanding Synoptic-Scale Weather Systems

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Wednesday, 7 January 2015: 10:45 AM
125AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Jonathan E. Martin, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

When I interviewed for the position of Asst. Prof. in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in February 1994, I was introduced to a remarkable software program called VIS-5D. VIS-5D is able to take any gridded model data set and allow the user (even a near computer illiterate such as myself) to interrogate the data in three dimensions while animating forward through time. I knew right then that I had to secure the job as my doctoral and post-doctoral work on cyclones had developed within me an ability to visualize weather systems in 3D and I knew that coupling that hard won ability with the ease of insight offered by VIS-5D would be a tremendous boon to my productivity.

I quickly realized the great potential of VIS-5D in work on occluded cyclones that began shortly after I arrived in Madison. This work prompted me to utterly transform the way I bring fluid dynamical concepts into the classroom and my research. Many concepts in synoptic-dynamic meteorology are ripe for examination with visualization software and in the talk I will demonstrate several of these including the nature of the occlusion process, the trowal airstream, the treble-clef PV signature, and the effect of latent heat release on the development of the occluded thermal structure. These concepts, and the visualization methodology used to convey them, have become staples in my instructional work at the undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate level.