CISESS Virtual Reality Seed Grant Results

The interactive user control panel for the VR visualization of ENSO over the last 100 years.
© Guangyang Fang

Real-Time NOAA Weather and Climate Product Analysis in Virtual Reality

The goal of CISESS Scientists Guangyang Fang and Joseph Patton’s Seed Grant project was to develop a Virtual Reality (VR) tool that allows researchers and forecasters to interpret 3-D weather and climate datasets on a sphere more intuitively and efficiently. They use the Oculus Quest 2 VR headsets, a preprocessing program and a visualization program. They redesigned their earlier user interface to make it easier to use – this effort was led by undergraduate  interns Damian Figuero and Ashmita Pyne (see Figure above).

In this project, they focused on developing a visualization of the temporal and spatial evolution of an El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event. The user has access to  on sea surface temperature, thermocline, precipitation, wind strees direction and magniture, and outgoing longwave radiation. A demonstration video of the VR remote streaming can be seen at El Niño demo in new VR & VR remote streaming - YouTube.

One of the challenges making virtual reality avaialbe to new users is the large size of the 3D datasets. The group decided to develop a remote streaming feature, where all the data is kept on a powerful central computer in the CISESS Visualization Laboratory. User can then connect to the software remotely and wirelessly from anywhere with internet access and a VR headset. This also allows for remote education and training in VR. The software was also reduced so it could run as a standalone on the Oculus VR Headset without a PC or internet connection.


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