MRG Interactive Developments

Mesoscale Research Group SUNY/McGill

Real-Time, High-Resolution GFS Analysis Animations

  • General Description
  • Animation Builder
  • MetCal/SPA Diagnostics and Display Package
  • RealTime diagnostics System
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • General Description

    The animations created here are produced by the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Albany. All fields are computed using 6-hourly pressure-level data from the
    Global Data Assimilation System (GDAS) final analysis at full resolution (0.5 degree starting 0000 UTC 15 December 2004; 1.0 degree before this time/date). Diagnostics are computed globally, but are displayed in the subdomain chosen by the user. A detailed description of the fields displayed on each set of images is provided as headers and captions for the animations themselves. Please note that both this analysis/diagnostics system and the Animation Builder are still under development. While we make every attempt to keep the images as up-to-date as possible, it is possible that there will be interruptions to the image generation services as upgrades occur.

    There are several features shown on most of the animations generated here that are not noted individually on the description of each animation. On all images that are not colour-filled (i.e. any images where land and water is visible), snow/ice coverage is shown as a grey sheet. This field is consistent with the diagnostics since it is obtained from the same GDAS analysis. The 285 K (approximately 12 C) sea surface temperature (SST) contour is shown as a thin cyan line on all non colour-filled maps. This contour serves as a separation between cold polar waters and warmer tropical waters over much of the globe. Again, the consistency of the SST field with the overlying dynamics is ensured by the fact that this field is also read directly from the final GDAS analysis. Land is shown as a topographic map, with dark green colours indicating lowlands and brown, tan and white shadings respresenting elevated terrain. Ocean depths are plotted in colours varying from light blue (shallow) to dark blue (deep). All orographic and bathymetric data are derived from the USGS Etopo5 5 minute gridded topographic dataset.

    This work is supported by the University at Albany, SUNY and NSF Grants ATM-0304254 (PI: L. F. Bosart) and ATM-0434189 (PI: D. Keyser; Co-PI: L. F. Bosart).

    Animation Builder

    Use the pull-down menus to select the field and time interval to animate, then press the Build Animation button to generate the requested animation. If dates or times outside the applicable range are selected, only those present in the dataset will be displayed. Note that all dates are formatted (dd/mm/yyyy) and that the animation length defaults to 10 days before the current analysis day. For a full list of the date range available for a given field and map domain, use the Check Availability button and note the time range displayed beside the date selection menus. The Animation Builder is still under active development and is undergoing major upgrades periodically. If you encounter any errors in the Animation Builder, please send a detailed bug report to the system designer. Your patience during the development process is appreciated.

    Start Year: Month: Day: Note: The first processed analysis is valid 1200 UTC 17/12/2013
    End Year: Month: Day: Note: The latest processed analysis is valid 1200 UTC 17/04/2014
    Image Size:

    MetCal/SPA Diagnostics and Display Package

    All of the diagnostics displayed here are computed using the MRG Interactive MetCal/SPA package (Meteorological Calculator / Shared Procedure Archive). The MetCal/SPA project is hosted by SourceForge and is covered by the GNU General Public License, making it freely available to noncommercial interests. This means that you can download, install and even modify the diagnostics package in accordance with the COPYING conditions distributed with the package source code. For more information on the latest version of the MetCal/SPA package, visit the MetCal/SPA Homepage or go to the SourceForge Project Homepage for downloads and information on how to assist with development of this advanced diagnostics and display package.

    The MetCal/SPA package has three primary components, a summary of which is provided here. For detailed information, please refer to the extensive online or downloadable documentation for the package. The basic structure of the SPA (Shared Procedure Archive) is that of an extensible library of common mathematical and meteorological functions. An up-to-date list of the available functions is provided in the online documentation along with a complete description of the SPA structure and utility. Another component of the MetCal package is a GUI (Graphical User Interface) that allows for rapid access of selected SPA functionality. Although the MetCal GUI is not (currently) capable of generating the type of real-time plots shown in the animations, many of the more common meteorological and mathematical functions are accessible through the interface. The final component of the MetCal/SPA package is the developer's interface. This FORTRAN90 interface permits the user to gain full control over the actions of the SPA and to extend its functionality in any way desired. It is this powerful interface that is used to create the diagnostics and images shown here.

    RealTime diagnostics System

    The RealTime diagnostics System (RTS) is the MetCal/SPA based application the computes the diagnostics and plots the images available in this archive. The RTS also implements the user interface that allows for quick, intuitive accessing and browsing of the images. Like the MetCal/SPA package, the RTS is covered by the GNU General Public License, making it freely available to noncommercial interests. You can download the latest version of the RTS here. Both an online and a printable version of the RTS manual are also available, and will assist greatly with the installation and configuration of the RTS on your system.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How long are images archived for? Images are archived for as long as disk space allows. Current storage allows for approximately half a year's worth of data to be available through the Animation Builder. To check the time span of a particular image, set up the image specifications in the Animation Builder and then press the Check Availability button. This updates the first/last processing times next to the Start Year and End Year entries. Any time between these dates should be valid for animation generation.

    Why do I get an error page when I hit Build Animation? The most common reason behind the error page is that the dates selected are outside the valid range. This means that either the Start Date is in the future or that the End Date is before the beginning of the image archive. To check that you have selected dates within the image range, press the Check Availability button and make sure that the selected dates lie bewteen those shown. If your dates are not the problem, then please email us and copy/paste the information given on the error page.

    How do I generate diagnostics and images like these? There is lots of information about the diagnostics and display packages (MetCal/SPA and RTS) used to generate these images in the MetCal/SPA Diagnostics and Display Package and RTS sections on this page. All of the software used to generate these plots is freely available on this page as described above.

    What if I would really like another field or map? Additional diagnostics and map areas can be added to the Animation Builder on requrest. Please send us an email with your contact information, a brief description of your request and motivation for adding such a field or projection to the image list. We will contact you and discuss the particulars of your request as soon as possible.

    How do I make the generated loops load faster? The high quality of the images used in the Animation Builder means that load times can be long if you are loading a long animation, if you are on a slow internet connection, or if our servers are experiencing a high volume of traffic. There are several strategies that you can adopt if you find the load time unacceptably long. First, you can shorten the length of the animation that you are requesting - 10 days is simply a default value. Second, you can load small images instead of large ones using the Image Size option menu of the Animation Builder. Third, you can choose only to load images at 12-hourly or 24-hourly intervals (default is 6-hourly time resolution). This is particularly useful if you are loading an animation for a full season.

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