Web Watch

See today’s CHAMP soundings in action

Sounding techniques based on the Global Positioning System spring to life in the animated displays produced by UCAR’s Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere & Climate. The displays show actual soundings taken at various points around the globe only hours earlier.

When COSMIC reworked its Web site earlier this year, “we needed a good teaser on the front page,” says COSMIC’s Douglas Hunt. “As kind of a lark, really, I’d been trying to come up with ways of displaying and animating Earth with one of the Perl-based Web tools I’ve been developing.”

COSMIC’s own system won’t be launched until late 2005, so in the meantime its Web site features on-the-fly plots of recent data pulled from another space-based system, the Challenging Minisatellite Payload for Geophysical Research and Application. CHAMP was launched in 2000 by Germany’s GeoForschungZentrum Potsdam.

Every few minutes, CHAMP infers the state of the atmosphere along the path of a GPS signal that skims just above Earth’s surface before being intercepted by CHAMP’s satellite. The data are downloaded every few hours to Germany, and COSMIC gets them a few hours later. Hunt’s Perl script animates the path of the signal between the CHAMP and GPS satellites, with an adjacent plot that animates the change of temperature with height along the way (see sample graphic).

The site features the five most recent occultations, which are anywhere from2 to 24 hours old. Once COSMIC is up and running, a similar program should be able to plot soundings even closer to real time. “We’re trying to get it all to fit within a three-hour window,” says Hunt.

Also in this issue...

The changing face of NCAR

Initiatives in Brief
Geographic Information Systems

WRF's new construction zone
Hurricane-tested WRF nails Isabel

UCAR Foundation launches tech-transfer firm

Women in meteorology: how long a minority?

Building a home for HIAPER


President’s Corner - Leaders: Born or made?
Congress looks at climate change

Science Bit

UCAR Community Calendar