Communicate NCAR science using visualizations

CISL’s Scientific Visualization Services Group (SVSG) operates the VisLab, a center for visual computing, educational activities, and remote collaboration efforts. It serves as a virtual window on NCAR science to communicate NCAR’s scientific achievements – and CISL’s role in supporting them – through the use of visualizations in a theater-style, high-resolution, 3D presentation format. The VisLab also explores novel visualization techniques and tools, and collaborates with NCAR researchers to create engaging digital media for publication and to help foster the transfer of knowledge and interest in the atmospheric and related sciences. Additionally, its advanced collaboration environment fosters geographically distributed research and communication while minimizing the need for travel by teams collaborating on cross-institutional projects.

Augmented reality visualization
This is an iPad screenshot from an augmented reality (AR) project showing El Niño data mapped onto a 3D globe. Nihanth Cherukuru (Arizona State University) worked with SVSG staff to develop an AR mobile app as part of his summer SIParCS internship in CISL. Augmented reality technology enables an interactive environment for overlaying computer-generated imagery on top of real-world video, and it provides new and engaging tools for education and outreach.


The VisLab is a key CISL education, outreach, and training resource that supports CISL’s plans and mission to reach out and inspire new generations of computational geoscientists. It provides demonstrations of NCAR science to a wide variety of users including university, government, corporate, and scientific visitors, and by partnering with UCAR’s science education program (UCSE) it provides demonstrations to K-12 audiences that help educate and inspire young people about Earth System sciences, scientific research, and High Performance Computing (HPC). The VisLab provides mentoring resources to the CISL SIParCS internship program, which serves university students who are interested in pursuing careers in the computational geosciences. Also, the VisLab collaborates with NCAR scientists to create visualizations of current research that are used in publications, presentations, broadcast news, and posted for community outreach on social media to enhance public understanding of NCAR science and HPC.

In FY2016 the VisLab continued serving as a venue for demos to many high-level visitors and as a meeting space for conferences and classes to help engage a broad and diverse community, increasing awareness and understanding of science, HPC, and environmental issues. The Scientific Visualization Services Group (SVSG) supported approximately 160 meetings and demos in the CISL VisLab to over 2,050 users including Congressional staffers, NSF officials, NOAA analysts, corporate and research representatives, university students, and international visitors from Germany, China, and Korea, to name a few. Collaborative technologies and tools for video, web, and telephone conferences were used to host over 50 HPC and VAPOR training classes and webinars, connect remote participants at NCAR campuses and other collaborating institutions, and to provide audio-visual and editing support for online access to class recordings. SVSG continued to develop scientific visualizations to help communicate NCAR research and to provide engaging and educational material for presentations and publication on social media. Visualizations created this fiscal year have been used to educate and to inform about climate change, geoengineering, El Niño, hurricanes, and sonification research. Additionally, SVSG sponsored an intern project with the SIParCS program that resulted in the development of mobile apps for education and outreach through the implementation of virtual and augmented reality technologies.

This project is supported by NSF Core funds.