W3DX: Weather3DeXplorer

Virtual Reality Framework for 3D Visualization of Meteorological Data

The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) has developed Weather3DeXplorer (W3DX), a 3D (4D) visualization framework for interactive exploration of meteorologic and atmospheric data.
W3DX is designed to process and visualize Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) modeldata and observational data, i.e. satellite images, precipitation radar, ground measurements.

With a great success we use Virtual Reality (VR) environments as a "place" to look on the complex atmospheric data. At KNMI we have a 3D visualization lab (3D-VIS Lab)equipped with VR PowerWall, a large stereoscopic projection screen. See images below. 3D-stereoscopic images are delivered by a powerful graphics workstation and 2 projectors whose images are polarized. The users wear depolarizing glasses which create the VR-effect of being surround by clouds and other atmospheric structures. And we can confirm that the users can definitely better understand spatial structure and relation in their data. The VR-effect really helps.

Latest News:

We invite meteorologists and model-developers to the 3D-VIS Lab to explore the datasets produced by the weather models HIRLAM and HARMONIE. The experiences so far are very promising.

The W3DX framework is a valuable tool for the NWP model developers and atmospheric researchers when searching for anomalies in the data, model validation with respect to observations and measurements and model behavior under certain conditions.

The (experimental research) W3DX framework runs since 2009 continuously. On the back-hand, the system continuously processes the latest raw NWP model output (at present Hirlam version 7.2 with resolution 11x11km and Harmonie h36.1.3 with resolution 2.5x2.5 km) and creates derived meteorologic fields, gathers data together, applies the grid transformations & projections and produces certain 3D visualization products, so that we can quickly (almost instantly) visualize the 3D weather data on the front-end. The W3DX viewer application runs on graphics workstations either connected to a VR display (i.e. VR PowerWall or 3D HDTV) or a regular flat screen although than without the VR-effect.

In the front-end W3DX viewer application the user can chose to look at the real-time model forecast or archived weather data. In the past years we have built in a lot of functionality to look on the weather data in 3D in various ways, we can visually combine parameters together and create new, potentially more meaningful visualization in a certain weather situation. See examples below.

In the past years we have gathered a number weather studies of severe weather events. Basically we try to capture every weather alarm. Together with our scientists we have performed experimental re-runs of the weather models while experimenting on the physics, parametrizations, boundary conditions, model constraining factors. And we have learned a lot of interesting things about models.

After a number of W3DX training sessions with the weather forecasters of KNMI we have found out a great potential of using this system in the operational weather room. Therefore we are in a process introduction of 3D meteorological visualization to the operational weather room, which is, to be honest, a challenging task, since operational requirements on the (visualization) tools are different from the research tools and also the operational forecasting process limits the time the our user can effectively spent the W3DX system.

3D visualization receives growing acceptance by our atmospheric scientists and forecasters. W3DX is an excellent weather presentation tool for professionals, students and general public.

Since we give a lot of demonstrations of our system we discovered that we could use our system in certain setting for educational purposes. We hope to start a project in that direction soon.

Random W3DX images:

Latest developments:

3D Radar data visualisation:

Radar data validity

Smelting layer (snow => rain).


Preview of selected W3DX demonstrations:

KNMI R&D-WD department at GeoBuzz, 2015 KNMI 3D Weather Data in Virtual Reality CAVE, 2015
3D-VIS presentation at EUMETSAT 2014 Conference, Geneve 2014
3D-VIS presentation (IASI 3D profiles) at EUMETSAT, Darmstadt 2013
Movies: 3D IASI case studies
3D-VIS presentation (3D RADAR) at International Precipitation Conference, Wageningen 2013 3D-VIS presentation RijksinnovatieLab, Den Haag 2013
3D-VIS at EMS & EUMETCAL, Berlin 2011 3D-VIS presentation at WMO, Geneve 2010
3D-VIS presentation at KNMI-Contactdag, De Bilt, 2010 3D-VIS presentation at Hirlam-All-Staf Meeting, Utrecht, 2009
3D-VIS at Innovatie Estaffete, Rotterdam 2011 3D-VIS presentation at KNMI_OpenDag 2009
3D-VIS presentation at KVK, Amersfoort 2010 3D-VIS during Summer Weather Training 2011

Poster presentation about Weather3DeXplorer

Click to download the poster presentation.

Click to download the poster presentation.

Click to download the poster presentation.

Examples W3DX in action:

Galery of animations made by Weather 3D eXplorer


HIRLAM & Harmonie comparisom on case-14juli2010


HIRLAM -case-14juli2010
HIRLAM - case-2010-08-29-1600 UTC


Harmonie: Example 3D-Anaglyphs/

Harmonie -case-14juli2010
Harmonie - case-14juli2010 - Vertical Velicity Harmonie -case-14juli2010 - time 17:30 UTC
Harmonie -case-14juli2010 - Vectors

Harmonie - case-13aug2010/
Harmonie - PukkelPop

Harmonie - case20070709/

Mountain Waves with Harmonie model:

Harmonie - mwave

Copyright M.Koutek KNMI (C) 2015