Utilizing Google Earth as a GIS platform for weather applications

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Tuesday, 31 January 2006: 2:00 PM
Utilizing Google Earth as a GIS platform for weather applications
A412 (Georgia World Congress Center)
Travis M. Smith, CIMMS/Univ. of Oklahoma and NOAA/NSSL, Norman, OK; and V. Lakshmanan

Presentation PDF (347.5 kB)

Google Earth (formerly known as Keyhole; http://earth.google.com) is a free application that streams high-resolution static satellite imagery and map overlays over a broadband internet connection to a 3D display on a user's desktop. Google Earth provides the user the ability to overlay images, icons, and polygons via Extensible Markup Language (XML) tags. These user-generated products may be shared over the internet and requested by Google Earth at specified intervals, which provides the ability to stream continuously updating real-time imagery. Because Google Earth is a free application that runs on inexpensive hardware, it provides an easy way to disseminate weather products to collaborators or end-users.

The National Severe Storms Laboratory has begun utilizing Google Earth as a way to share experimental severe weather products with other researchers and operational meteorologists for evaluation and feedback. A variety of multi-sensor severe weather products are generated by NSSL and shared to Google Earth users via the internet at http://wdssii.nssl.noaa.gov. These products include spatially gridded fields of Vertically Integrated Liquid, Maximum Expected Hail Size, tracks of circulations derived from Doppler velocity data, composite reflectivity, and 30-to-60 minute forecast reflectivity fields, among others. These products, which have a spatial resolution of approximately 1 km by 1 km, are generated every one or two minutes within the Warning Decision Support System Integrated Information (WDSS-II). The WDSS-II system provides the images in GeoTIFF format which may be imported into most Geographic Information Systems software including Google Earth.

The presentation shows examples of products generated within the WDSS-II framework that are available for viewing in the Google Earth application, and demonstrates the process by which researchers can share their work with other Google Earth users via the internet.