Visualization Laboratory outreach

"Polar vortex" animation
VisLab staff produced significant new visualization material in FY2014, including an animation of January-February 2014 surface temperatures across North America. The animation depicts the multiple surges of frigid air that swept across eastern North America during the 2013–2014 winter. Hourly images are based on data generated by the NOAA Climate Forecast System model and visualized using NCAR Command Language software. The animation was featured in a UCAR AtmosNews feature article about the 2013–2014 winter.

CISL’s Scientific Visualization Services Group (SVSG) operates the Vislab, a visual computing center that is used to conduct many of CISL’s education, outreach, and collaboration efforts. The 1,000-square-foot facility supports video conferencing technologies, data analysis and visualization, and theater-style presentations in a widescreen, high-resolution, 3D format. The facility is equipped with a collaborative touch-screen interface, a high-definition 3D 1920×1080-resolution active stereo projector, and a 12×7-foot screen. This system displays imagery and presentation materials simultaneously from multiple sources including user laptops, digital media systems, and high-definition video conferencing platforms.

The Vislab serves as an important resource for CISL’s education and outreach efforts, fulfilling the strategic action item for CISL to tell NCAR’s story to the world. Vislab activities serve hundreds of staff and visitors each year and include support for advanced collaboration environments that foster geographically distributed research and communication. The Vislab operates a sizable outreach program that provides 3D presentations to a wide range of student, governmental, and scientific visitors. The Vislab’s implementation and support of collaborative technologies help enhance communication while minimizing the need for travel by geographically distributed teams collaborating on cross-institutional projects. The Vislab is also routinely used as an important presentation venue by UCAR staff for general meetings, conferences, and classes.

The Vislab continued serving as a venue for demos to many high-level visitors and a meeting space for conferences and classes to help engage a broad and diverse community, increasing awareness and understanding of science, high-performance computing (HPC), and environmental issues. In collaboration with the UCAR Office of Government Affairs and UCAR's Science Education Program, demonstrations of NCAR science were provided to diverse visitors and groups including U.S. Congressman Jared Polis, the Weather Channel, commercial interests such as Chevron, and many K-12 and university student groups, to name a few. Additionally, the VisLab was used as a recording venue for an NBC interview with NCAR scientist Dr. Kevin Trenberth.

HPC training classes addressing topics such as Fortran and Python programming, Yellowstone supercomputer access, performance tools, data processing, and visualization techniques were offered through collaborations with the Pittsburg Supercomputing Center, the CISL Consulting Group, and the NCL and VAPOR projects. In all, the VisLab supported over 2,100 participants in 145 meetings (a 45% increase over last year).

The VisLab also continues to help CISL embrace green technologies and reduce its environmental footprint. Technologies for video, web, and telephone conferences were used to support meetings and classes for approximately 500 remote users at NCAR Boulder campuses, the University of Wyoming, and other institutions around the country. Additionally, the VisLab supported multiple collaboration technologies to record, deliver, and post-process interactive webinars for NCL and VAPOR visualization tutorials and the CISL Consulting Group's training seminars.

Unplanned accomplishments this fiscal year included the hiring of a software engineer I to replace an outgoing multimedia technician.

This project is supported by NSF Core funds.