2002 Annual

Monday, 14 January 2002: 2:00 PM
Numerical model visualization using the FSL D3D: A paradigm shift for operational forecasters
James R. Johnson, NOAA/NWS, Dodge City, KS
With the recent availability of the FSL Display Three Dimensional (D3D) software application, a new and sharply different method for interrogating numerical model output is at hand. Three dimensional visualization allows a forecaster to simultaneously diagnose a number of atmospheric variables using gridded model output, including their interrelationships. D3D also allows those variables to be quickly presented through the depth of the troposphere as opposed to the traditional method of inferring their vertical extent and strength by viewing successive horizontal or vertical two dimensional slices through a three dimensional atmosphere. Furthermore, the ability to time lapse these displays introduces the fourth dimension to the visualization. However, three dimensional (and four dimensional) visualization of numerical model output is also a unique challenge for the forecaster of the future.

On the face of it, this would seem an extremely welcome capability to operational forecasters. Recent experience is discussed whereby using the LINUX port of the FSL D3D in an operational environment has convinced the author that many forecasters will need to rethink and refine their three dimensional conceptual models of atmospheric processes. Several questions are examined, including: 1) why do some operational forecasters have difficulty in interpretation of three dimensional displays of traditional meteorological variables? 2) how deeply has the classical two dimensional way of thinking of the past been ingrained into the psyche of operational forecasters? 3) does three dimensional (and four dimensional) visualization represent a true paradigm shift in viewing the atmosphere? 4) what can be done in the operational environment to ease the transition to three (and four) dimensional visualization? 5) how can academia and other teaching and training organizations facilitate this shift in visualization paradigms, and why must they? 6) what does the future of three dimensional visualization hold for the operational meteorologist?

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