S124 A Novel Web Application to Analyze and Visualize Extreme Heat Events

Sunday, 22 January 2017
4E (Washington State Convention Center )
Gina Li, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA; and H. M. Jones and J. Trtanj

Extreme heat is the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the United States annually and is expected to increase with our warming climate. However, most of these deaths are preventable with proper tools and services to inform the public about heat waves. In this project, we have investigated the key indicators of a heat wave, the vulnerable populations,  and the data visualization strategies of how those populations most effectively absorb heat wave data. A map-based web app has been created that allows users to search and visualize historical heat waves in the United States incorporating these strategies. This app utilizes daily maximum temperature data from NOAA’s Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN) which contains about 2.7 million data points from over 7,000 stations per year. The point data are spatially aggregated into county-level data using county geometry from the US Census Bureau and  stored in a Postgres database with PostGIS spatial capability. GeoServer, a powerful map server, is used to serve the image and data layers (WMS and WFS). The JavaScript-based web-mapping platform Leaflet is used to display the temperature layers. A number of functions have been implemented for the search and display. Users can search for extreme heat events by county or by date. The “by date” option allows a user to select a date and a Tmax threshold which then highlights all of the areas on the map that meet those date and temperature parameters. The “by county” option allows the user to select a county on the map which then retrieves a list of heat wave dates and daily Tmax measurements. This visualization is clean, user-friendly, and novel because while this sort of time, space, and temperature measurements can be found by querying meteorological datasets, there does not exist a tool that neatly packages this information together in an easily accessible and non-technical manner, especially in a time where climate change urges a better understanding of heat waves.
- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner