A tropical cyclone application for virtual globes

Turk, J., J. Hawkins, K. Richardson, and M. Surratt (2011), A tropical cyclone application for virtual globes, Computers & Geosciences, 37, 13-24, doi:10.1016/j.cageo.2010.05.001.

Within the past ten years, a wide variety of publicly available environmental satellite-based data have become available to users and gained popular exposure in meteorological applications. For example, the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has maintained a well accepted web-based tropical cyclone (TC) website (NRL TC-Web) with a diverse selection of environmental satellite imagery and products covering worldwide tropical cyclones extending back to 1997. The rapid development of virtual globe technologies provides for an effective framework to efficiently demonstrate meteorological and oceanographic concepts to not only specialized weather forecasters but also to students and the general public. With their emphasis upon geolocated data, virtual globes represent the next evolution beyond the traditional web browser by allowing one to define how, where, and when various data are displayed and dynamically updated.

In this article, we describe a virtual globe implementation of the NRL TC-Web satellite data processing system. The resulting NRL Tropical Cyclones on Earth (TC-Earth) application is designed to exploit the capabilities of virtual globe technology to facilitate the display, animation, and layering of multiple environmental satellite imaging and sounding sensors for effective visualization of tropical cyclone evolution. As with the NRL TC-Web, the TC-Earth application is a dynamic, realtime application, driven by the locations of active and historical tropical cyclones. TC-Earth has a simple interface that is designed around a series of placemarks that follow the storm track history. The position coordinates along the storm track are used to map-register imagery and subset other types of information, allowing the user a wide range of freedom to choose data types, overlay combinations, and animations with a minimum number of clicks. TC-Earth enables the user to quickly select and navigate to the storm of interest from the multiple TCs active at anytime around the world or to peruse data from archived storms.

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