Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center (GES DISC) scientists Zhong Liu, Dana Ostrenga, and Gregory Leptoukh have published a paper in the April 2011 issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (known as 'BAMS'). The paper describes the the archive of geostationary weather satellite merged infrared (Merged IR) data available in the GES DISC's Hurricane Data Analysis Tool (HDAT). These data allow users to generate detailed animations of the development and movement of tropical storm systems.
The paper, which appears in the "On the Web" section of BAMS, discusses the archive of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction / Climate Prediction Center (NCEP/CPC) 4-km Global (60°N–60°S) IR Dataset. The NCEP/CPC dataset is an ancillary dataset of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM). This archive runs from February 2000 to the present, currently consisting of nearly 100,000 data files – a data volume of 5.8 Terabytes. (To get an idea of how much data this is, the image of Hurricane Gustav shown with this article is 127 kilobytes (kb) in size. If the entire 5.8 Terabytes consisted of images this size, that would be nearly eight and a half million images.)
Because of this data volume, the entire archive would be difficult for researchers to use. So the HDAT provides the capability to subset this archive regionally and by time, allowing users to create images and animations of the cloud formations associated with weather events like hurricanes. The HDAT can provide images and animation of many other events, such as the massive tornado-spawning thunderstorms that have been besieging the U.S. Midwest this spring. The article includes images of a rain event that caused flooding rains in Mecca, Saudi Arabia on November 25, 2009. This single event delivered two-thirds of the annual rainfall the region normally receives!
HDAT can also provide images of other events, such as volcanic ash plumes and snowstorms. The images can be generated in either grayscale or false color representation. The time step of the animations is user-selected and can range from 30 minutes to 24 hours.
The architecture of HDAT is based on the NASA Giovanni data analysis system, which is hosted by the GES DISC. Other precipitation data sets can be accessed through the Giovanni TRMM Online Visualization and Analysis System (Giovanni TOVAS).