Computer Graphics Laboratory ETH Zurich


Extraction and Visual Analysis of Potential Vorticity Banners around the Alps

R. Bader, M. Sprenger, N. Ban, S. Rüdisühli, C. Schär, T. Günther

Proceedings of IEEE Scientific Visualization (Vancouver, BC, Canada, October 20-25, 2020), IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, vol. 26, no. 1, 2020, pp. 259-269


Potential vorticity is among the most important scalar quantities in atmospheric dynamics. For instance, potential vorticity plays a key role in particularly strong wind peaks in extratropical cyclones and it is able to explain the occurrence of frontal rain bands. Potential vorticity combines the key quantities of atmospheric dynamics, namely rotation and stratification. Under suitable wind conditions elongated banners of potential vorticity appear in the lee of mountains. Their role in atmospheric dynamics has recently raised considerable interest in the meteorological community for instance due to their influence in aviation wind hazards and maritime transport. In order to support meteorologists and climatologists in the analysis of these structures, we developed an extraction algorithm and a visual exploration framework consisting of multiple linked views. For the extraction we apply a predictor-corrector algorithm that follows streamlines and realigns them with extremal lines of potential vorticity. Using the agglomerative hierarchical clustering algorithm, we group banners from different sources based on their proximity. To visually analyze the time-dependent banner geometry, we provide interactive overviews and enable the query for detail on demand, including the analysis of different time steps, potentially correlated scalar quantities, and the wind vector field. In particular, we study the relationship between relative humidity and the banners for their potential in indicating the development of precipitation. Working with our method, the collaborating meteorologists gained a deeper understanding of the three-dimensional processes, which may spur follow-up research in the future.


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