Re-creating a tornado in 3-D provides a more effective way to study storms
When The Weather Channel meteorologist Jim Cantore stepped into an EF-5 tornado re-created in 3-D in a four-story immersive installation at Virginia Tech, his perspective was that of someone 7,000 feet tall.
Beneath him was the landscape of Moore, Oklahoma. Around him was the storm that killed 24 people in May 2013.
With support from Virginia Tech’s Institute of Creativity, Arts, and Technology, a student and faculty team from the geography department in the College of Natural Resources and Environment created the storm in the Moss Arts Center facility known as the Cube — a highly adaptable space for research and experimentation in immersive environments.
Cantore was tipped off by Kathryn Prociv, a Virginia Tech geography graduate who is now a producer at The Weather Channel.
She had been a storm chaser with the Virginia Tech team for three years before completing her master’s degree research on the effects of changes in land surfaces on rotating storm intensity in the Appalachian Mountain region.
When Prociv asked her former instructor Dave Carroll what was happening at her alma mater, he told her about the tornado re-creation in the Cube. Cantore promptly made arrangements to visit, accompanied by Greg Forbes, The Weather Channel’s severe weather expert.
Real weather delayed the visit a few months, but on Feb. 6 Cantore was immersed in the re-created storm and broadcasting live.
The project was born when Bill Carstensen, a professor and head of the Department of Geography, told Benjamin Knapp, director of the Institute of Creativity, Arts, and Technology, about Carroll’s 3-D images of storms.
Subsequently, a $25,000 Science, Engineering, Art, and Design grant from the institute made it possible to hire Kenyon Gladu of Troutville, Virginia, a junior majoring in meteorology, and Trevor White of Henrico, Virginia, a master’s student in geography.
Gladu worked with radar data and White did the programming to retrieve the needed NEXRAD (Next-Generation Radar) data and render it appropriately. Institute staffer Run Yu of Beijing, China, a computer science doctoral student in the College of Engineering, placed the storm in the cube.
“We decided to produce that tornadic supercell because it was a catastrophic event,” said Carroll. He was south of Moore with the Virginia Tech storm chase team at the time it occurred. The team members can often safely position themselves within a mile of a storm, but not in that instance.
“It formed in the suburbs of Oklahoma City. We couldn’t engage the storm because of the hazards in that environment — traffic, people fleeing,” he said. “We had to back off.”
“People on the ground could not observe that storm from all angles and directions,” said Carstensen. “But NEXRAD radar captured data throughout the storm. It provided hundreds of thousands of data points in 3-D with several attributes at each data point, including the intensity of precipitation and the direction and speed of floating particulates.
“Our meteorology degree program ties in geospatial science with weather data — to meld atmospheric data with ground data. Geospatial science can register ground data — the rolling hills of Oklahoma and the land cover, such as agriculture, prairie, forests, and urban development. So in this re-creation of the Moore storm, there is the land cover on the ground and the storm above in perfect position.”
The Cube allows complete tracking of where a subject is standing, moving, and looking. An Oculus head-mounted display provides an image of what the subject would see from any vantage point. If there are two people in the cube, they will see each other as avatars and will be able to see different points of view and exchange information.
“Eventually, you will be able to zoom in, to control the scale of what you see,” said Carstensen.
“It’s like a game environment in which you are embedded in the computer,” explained Carroll. “You can then study storms from different perspectives than in the field. You can peel away the outer layers of rain so you can see the business end of the storm. It is a more effective way of looking at storm structure.”
“It will be a valuable tool for researchers, forecasters, and students,” said Carstensen.
The ultimate goal is to bring real-time radar into the Cube — “real time” in this instance being only a four- or five-minute delay. Carstensen and Carroll met with Mike Kleist, a Virginia Tech mathematics graduate who is now vice president of engineering at Weather Services International (WSI), a weather graphics software company.
“Mike said real time was absolutely doable,” said Carstensen. “We could visualize the whole East Coast, or any place that has been mapped, overlain by a snow storm, or a storm surge model.”
“This has great potential for emergency managers,” said Carroll.
Lynn Davis | newswise
Goodbye, login. Hello, heart scan
26.09.2017 | University at Buffalo
Stable magnetic bit of three atoms
21.09.2017 | Sonderforschungsbereich 668
Controlling electronic current is essential to modern electronics, as data and signals are transferred by streams of electrons which are controlled at high speed. Demands on transmission speeds are also increasing as technology develops. Scientists from the Chair of Laser Physics and the Chair of Applied Physics at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have succeeded in switching on a current with a desired direction in graphene using a single laser pulse within a femtosecond ¬¬ – a femtosecond corresponds to the millionth part of a billionth of a second. This is more than a thousand times faster compared to the most efficient transistors today.
Graphene is up to the job
At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
26.09.2017 | Life Sciences
26.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
26.09.2017 | Information Technology