Gaining fresh insights

The visualizations are like "a three-dimensional virtual storm chase," says University of Illinois atmospheric scientist Matthew Gilmore. Using visualizations, events that occur with blinding speed in the field can be slowed to a crawl for close study. The data can be interrogated in many ways, allowing researchers to look at cross-sections, employ different points of view, and zoom in on small-scale effects.

Because of the vast and complex spatial and time datasets involved, the use of interactive visualization tools provides a vital advantage as Wilhelmson's team continues to investigate the mechanisms for tornado formation. In particular, the researchers are examining vortex generation, stretching, and convergence through comparison with theories for tornado formation and through in-depth trajectory analysis.

This project was supported by Intel Corporation, the National Science Foundation, NCSA, and NOAA's National Severe Storms Laboratory.

For further information:

Team members

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Lee Cronce
Matthew Gilmore
Glen Romine
Mark Straka

National Severe Storms Laboratory

Lou Wicker

National Center for Supercomputing Applications

Alex Betts
Donna Cox
Matt Hall
Stuart Levy
Robert Patterson
Robert Wilhelmson

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In this visualization, a volumetric rendering of the storm cloud shows the helical updraft of the thunderstorm. Click here to view a movie of the visualization.