Communicate NCAR science using visualizations

App demonstration
Nihanth Cherukuru (TDD/SVSG) demonstrates the Meteo VR app to a young visitor during the public session of the White House Frontiers Conference in PIttsburgh. The Meteo VR app is a CISL-developed virtual reality program that runs on mobile platforms and enables users to interactively explore NCAR geoscience data using inexpensive devices like Google Cardboard that turn their mobile phone into a 3D VR platform. This technology helps make NCAR science more engaging, interactive, and accessible to ever-larger audiences.

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.

The VisLab is a key CISL education, outreach, and training resource that supports CISL’s plans and mission to reach out to new generations of computational geoscientists and help engage a broad and diverse community, increasing awareness and understanding of science, HPC, and environmental issues. It provides demonstrations of NCAR science to a wide variety of users including university, government, corporate, and scientific visitors. 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. Also, the VisLab collaborates with NCAR scientists to create visualizations of current research that are used in publications, presentations, broadcast news, and many of these visualizations are posted on social media as community outreach to enhance public understanding of NCAR science and HPC.

In FY2017 SVSG and the CISL VisLab supported approximately 118 meetings and demos to over 1,450 users and visitors including entrepreneurs, philanthropists, federal and state government staffers, NOAA communications specialists, corporate and research representatives, university students, and international student visitors, to name a few. Collaborative technologies and tools for video, web, and telephone conferences were used to host HPC 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 expand and develop its Augmented and Virtual Reality technologies (Meteo AR/VR), adding new datasets and improving software efficiency and robustness. Over the past year, the apps have seen more than 3,000 unique installs worldwide. These tools have been used for education in the classroom and for outreach in demonstrations about NCAR science at conferences and to NCAR visitors. SVSG staff were invited to demonstrate the Meteo AR/VR applications at the White House Frontiers Conference at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. Additionally, SVSG staff presented a CESM wind visualization at the PEARC 2017 conference that received the People’s Choice Visualization award. SVSG continued to develop new scientific visualizations to help communicate NCAR research and provide engaging and educational material for presentations and publication on social media. Visualizations created this fiscal year have been used to educate and inform about topics including global precipitation, wind magnitude, climate change, geoengineering, solar magnetism, and atmospheric circulation, among others. These visualizations have been used for science presentations, appeared in scientific publications (Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society – BAMS), on local news outlets (Fox 31), in university productions (Yale Climate Connections), in UCAR news publications (AtmosNews), and in other external online publications (Science Node). Additionally, CISL staff collaborated with Arizona State University to contribute to a BAMS article on Atmospheric Data Visualization in Mixed Reality (Aug 2017).

This project is supported by NSF Core funds.