13B.3 The Latest Nowcast: Improved Visibility

Thursday, 11 January 2018: 2:00 PM
404 (Hilton) (Austin Convention Center and Hilton )
Steve Albers, CIRA, Boulder, CO; and D. Nietfeld and Z. Toth

This presentation responds to the 2018 AMS Annual Meeting Theme: "Transforming Communication in the Weather, Water, and Climate Enterprise Focusing on Challenges Facing Our Sciences". With “new and innovative modes of communication” we “create an understanding and awareness of our sciences” and forecasts. Instead of deferring to complicated definitions and descriptions, a weather visualization tool called Simulated Weather IMagery (SWIM) makes nowcast and forecast weather, with most of its attributes including cloud cover and visibility readily perceptible by visual senses.

SWIM is introduced as vast improvements in observing, Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP modeling and data assimilation - DA), and computing systems bring us to the dawn of NWP-based nowcasting. We anticipate that high quality and fine scale gridded NWP analysis fusing observations from all platforms including GOES-R will become prevalent, opening up uncharted opportunities for forecasting and the communication of future weather.

In traditional practice, visibility, for example, is often measured with the single value of prevailing visibility at observing sites. Likewise, forecast visibility is typically described by tunable scalar values at selected sites. In contrast, using the ray-tracing algorithms in SWIM, analyzed or forecast visibility can be quantitatively assessed between any two arbitrarily chosen points within the atmosphere and can be graphically conveyed with realistic, photo-quality simulated images.

Ray-tracing algorithms can also be used to evaluate and improve the quality of DA techniques. In the future, highest quality information on current and future weather will therefore be in the form of digital analyses and forecasts, readily accessible by experts and lay audiences alike via visualization packages like SWIM. In the new era, nowcast and forecast weather, including visibility, cloud, precipitation, and ground surface conditions can be viewed from any vantage point from the surface, 3D atmosphere, or above.

  • Meeting Theme Question: “What are the key opportunities, both technical and practical, for improving communication within your specialty areas? What are examples of best practices for new methods of communication?”

Answer from nowcasting / forecasting perspective: Utilize emerging visualization technologies to bring the ever improving digital NWP forecasts and the underlying science, in a directly perceptible form, to the public.

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