The maturing stages of GeoWeather

1.Stage:

Learning the structure of the weather data

The first idea was a visualisation of 3D weather, which was only a 3D cloud picture without any data connection.With this Regina St÷ber Yurdakul applied for a job at DWD.
On the background of a 12-year professional experience in 2D and 3D computer animation, the communication designer worked for several years at the German National Weather Service DWD as a digital artist, where she had been responsible for the creation of weather forecast animations for several TV -stations.

This was an important condition for the founder to gain deep insight into the structure of weather data.
She had been also involved in the further development of the 3D weather visualisation system at DWD, which had been designed by meteorologists and programmers.
As a communication designer with a 12-year professional experience in 2D and 3D computer animation, she tried, to convince the system architects to solve some obvious weaknesses of that system.
She propagated, that the measure for a visualisation system is the communication task and not the technology.
3D can never be an end in itself. The user don't care if something is rendered in 2D or 3D, especially, if he does not see the difference.
Her rule, which is valid until today:
The look and feel should be cutting edge - as realistsic, as possible, but the system should use always the cheapest visualisation technology in terms of required computing power and rendering time..

2. Stage:

The local TV-Weather:

With a clear concept of a Weather-Visualisation system based on 2D compositing , she started in 1999 the founding of IP-Wetter (the name was WeatherArts at that time). Weather films have to be local, to communicate 7 km (today 2,8 km for germany) resoluted numerical weather prediction data.
This is a local weather, visualizing the german NWP model LM (7km), ready for daily production on the compositing system “Shake”
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This is an example of 3D local weather with realistic clouds and landscapes from the year 2001.
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It shows a 6 hour forecast of summerly convective clouds, produced as 3D-Particles  with the system“Maya” and composited on a 3D digital terrain background.

3. Stage:

Developing new concepts of data processing: 3D Visualisation as starting point

Nowcast ( forecast range up to + 6 hours ) is the most interesting forecast range for Location based weather and moreover the most precise, with a resolution of 1 km and better.
According to new developments in satellite picture analysis,  IP-Wetter developed a concept and applied for a funding of a research project “ Nowcast -Project”, where the design of data processing of the forecast is based on the visualisation. The simulation of realistic 3D cloud objects and conceptual models of weather parametrisations, with a preproduced lifcycle, was conceived as the starting point for designing the dataprocessing, to predict the further development of the observated weather.

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(Some of this classes are visualised in 2D in the prototype of Geo-meteo .)
Go to clouds, timepoint “jetzt”.
This is the visualisation of different cloudetypes, which become more and more realsitic, the more you zoom in. 

4. Stage:

Static Internet version

A Flash based internet version of the local weather was finished in 2003.
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The internet enables much more interaction.
The user has the possibility to see the animation or to navigate through the timeline to focus on timesteps.  He/she can choose also the parameter.
The weather films needs not to be produced before transfer, but are composed and rendered on the client side in the Flash-Player.
This is a big advantage , because a daily production of a big amount of local weatherfilms for TV is a huge and expensive effort.

This internet version was a cost effective production environment.
A new data processing was implemented at the serverside.

5. Stage :

Discover the world of Web-mapping and open source tools

2005 The BBK (Federal Office for civil protection and disaster control) assigned IP-Wetter a feasibility study for the better supply of disaster control with Nowcast, in the case of chemical transportation accidents.
A concept of an internetbased and Gis based nowcast processing ( OGC Web-Processing Service) and visualisation was developed.
The task was to process a precise nowcast , which can be combined with a windprediction on scales with a much higher level of detail ( streets and houses). ( see also)

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The main result of that investigations for the progress of GeoWeather was the discovering and study of web mapping tools.

To treat weather as a geografic feature, was the last breakthrough for Geo-weather.
Weather forecasts have always been a geografic feature, because it is the science of the Atmosphere, which belongs to the earth.
Weather was for ever visualised on a map. But the map was always not more than a simple, static BG.
This was the last hurdle to be resolved, the transfer of the advanced web mapping technologies with easy and fast pan and zoom to the weather area.
This was the last step, to bring the local weather to fly.

Because weather is characterized in difference to geografical maps by the time dimension, fast animations on each zoomlevel, had to be enabled. For that some special solutions were required, which geografical maps do not have.

This task had been accomplished with GeoWeather.
A worldwide zoom with fast animations on each zoomlevel is a main USP of Geo-wind. But this is only the beginning of GeoWeather. The technical conditions for 3D interactive weather are existing.

Additional Solutions

Zoom in the time dimension

Similar to the different level of detail on a zooming map, there are also different scales in the time dimension.
For example the observations of lightnings are done in splits of seconds, other observations are normaly in 15 min intervals, the 48 forecast has hourly intervals, the 7 day forecast has 6 hourly intervals 12 hourly or daily intervals.
In climatic views there are daily, weekly, monthly intervals.
This different scales are to be considered in data processing and are visualised by a zoom in the time dimension. First Solutions for the latter are prototyped, improved concepts are existing.

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Dataflow in Nowcast for roadweather.

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This is the place to express much gratitude to the unknown developers of all the free software tools, which were used, and to all the known contributors, who actively advanced the project with consultation and coding. The founder herself, thrilled with the triumphal of free software, visited a lot of conferences and exhibitions in this field. Without that knowledge, nothing would have been achieved. Special thanks to the FSF member Volker Dormeyer, who developed in 2002 the first serverside data processing and the frontend developer  Dirk Friedenberger, who developed in 2006 a preliminary stage of the prototype geo-meteo. The latter has been developed 2009/2010 during the incubation, funded by  the ESA incubation center Cesah. Without all that groundwork, the many tests and gaining experiences over all the years, GeoWeather would have not become, what it is today.