2002 Annual

Monday, 14 January 2002: 4:45 PM
WeatherScope: Interactive software for visualizing web-based meteorological data sets
J. Michael Wolfinbarger, Oklahoma Climatological Survey, Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK; and J. R. Greenfield, T. B. Stanley, and R. A. Young
Since 1992 the Oklahoma Climatological Survey (OCS) has developed customer software to view data from the Oklahoma Mesonet. In recent years, the decision makers who employ Mesonet data have required that the software integrate the display of National Weather Service radar and observational data. During the same time, the World Wide Web has become a viable method for the transfer of information to customers. As a result, OCS created Windows and Macintosh software that operated within the web browser environment. This display package, called WxScope Plugin, enabled customers to view real-time surface observations, radar data, and geographic data sets interactively. The ultimate value of the plugin was its ability to provide different decision makers to view the same data files in a highly customized environment, thus reducing server overload and enhancing the resultant visualization. Real-time, local, and life-saving decisions that were made during the 3 May 1999 tornado outbreak in Oklahoma represent the plugin’s value.

Although WxScope Plugin works well for near-real-time viewing of meteorological and other data sets, it does not provide an adequate framework for research scientists to view archived data, to ingest their own data sets, or to analyze the displayed information. In addition, K-12 students learn science and math better when they are able to create their own visualizations—a feature that is difficult to complete using the plugin. As a result, OCS’s software engineers are developing a high-quality visualization tool that requires only a Windows or Macintosh computer and the ability to learn drag-and-drop user interfaces. This new stand-alone application, called WeatherScope, accesses data archives via HTTP, integrates different georeferenced data sets (e.g., regional mesonetworks, surface observations, satellite and radar data, and images), and offers extensible and flexible support for a host of data file formats.

This presentation will discuss the challenges of employing download-on-demand data access over the Internet and creating a user interface which provides the tools research scientists need and K-12 students can use.

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