Provide advanced visualization services

CISL develops tools, software, and Big Data services to help scientists better understand and communicate scientific findings to their peers, stakeholders, and the general public. In particular, CISL staff work closely with individual scientists to develop engaging and informative visualizations that are used for research, scientific briefings, presentations at conferences, publication, and outreach to NCAR visitors. Additionally, CISL regularly explores new technologies and visualization techniques to examine how they can be applied to advance geoscience research and E&O opportunities.

CISL offers a portfolio of visualization resources including CISL-developed visualization tools – such as the NCAR Command Language (NCL) and VAPOR – as well as other state-of-the-art third-party visualization systems that are leveraged to create efficient workflows and customized visualizations to meet researchers’ Big Data visualization needs. Earth System science is advanced and research productivity is enhanced by this service that helps researchers create informative and educational visualizations for which they may not have the time, skills, staffing, or tools to develop.

Wind speed
This visualization depicts surface wind speed data from the NCAR CESM generated by Susan Bates and Nan Rosenbloom. The image is one frame of a visualization that shows the magnitude of wind speed over the course of a year. These simulations convey the complexity and detail of global wind currents and help communicate NCAR science to funding agents and visitors. (Visualization by Matt Rehme, CISL).


CISL provided these visualization services and collaborations to the scientific community in FY2017:

  • Continued development of geoengineering visualizations provided to Jadwiga Richter (CGD) and Simone Tilmes (CGD) for presentations on climate intervention research.

  • Global wind magnitude visualization developed for the Climate Change Research Group in CGD. This visualization won the People’s Choice Award for Best Visualization at the PEARC17 conference.

  • Cloud-resolving weather prediction visualization using MPAS showing outgoing longwave radiation for Falko Judt, an ASP Postdoctoral Fellow.

  • Cumulative precipitation visualization for Benjamin Cash (George Mason University) and the Advanced Scientific Discovery project.

  • A collaborative visualization of a CESM simulation of ocean impact on atmospheric oxygen and carbon dioxide was created for Matthew Long (CGD) and Britton Stephens (EOL) for the ORCAS airborne field campaign.

  • Continued development of a series of climate change visualizations for Clara Deser (CGD) and Marty Quinn (Plymouth University) as part of an interactive educational exhibit that uses sound and visualization to interpret climate change.

  • CESM decadal prediction comparison with current 20th-century CESM model output to understand which model most accurately represents observed sea ice trends and sea surface temperatures for Stephen Yeager (CGD) as part of the Advanced Scientific Discovery project.

  • Visualizations were created for NCAR’s Wind Forecast Improvement Project 2, being undertaken by Pedro Jimenez and Branko Kosovic at RAL. The effects that Mt. Hood has on wind power generation in the Pacific Northwest were illustrated in these visualizations that were displayed and orally presented at PEARC17, RMACC17, and to the VULCAN philanthropic group.

  • A biomass-burning visualization showing aerosols over the island of Borneo were created for Alma Hodzic at ACOM. These were used for researching perturbation effects on the convective precipitation of clouds. This work was used at various ACOM group meetings, at the 2017 EGU general assembly, will tentatively be used at AGU2017, and for publication in the Journal of Geophysical Research pending submission acceptance to the conference and journal.

  • Visualizations of “CESM2 Regional Climate Community Simulations” were produced as part of CISL’s ASD program for Andrew Gettelman (CGD) and Colin Zarzycki (CGD and MMM)).

Other FY2017 visualization and collaboration research and advancements include:

  • SVSG produced 10 new releases of the Meteo AR/VR mobile app which included the addition of new datasets, a more robust feature set, and UI improvements. These apps are made available on the Apple App Store and on Google Play for iOS and Android devices. The apps were downloaded more than 3,000 times worldwide (unique downloads) during this fiscal year.

This project is supported by NSF Core funds with supplemental funding provided via a DARPA award to NCAR’s Climate and Global Dynamics (CGD) Laboratory, and NSF Core funding via NCAR's High Altitude Observatory (HAO) Laboratory.