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
A novel hybrid UAV that may change the way people operate drones
28.03.2017 | Science China Press
Timing a space laser with a NASA-style stopwatch
28.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
29.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
29.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences