Climate Complexity Visualization


Eliot Feibush, Princeton University
Matthew Harrison, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory

Project Summary

While the science is clear that our climate is changing, there is still much to learn about the intricate interactions between the atmosphere and the ocean that will influence how climate change plays out. To refine our understanding of the large number of variables involved and better predict what the future will hold, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory developed the Earth System Model. This powerful coupled model simulates both the ocean and atmosphere and can be used to calculate variables such as water temperature, salinity, wind, and vorticity.

NOAA/GFDL researcher Matthew Harrison and Eliot Feibush of Princeton University used the model to create these visualizations that illustrate how atmospheric variables and ocean variables interact to influence climate, shedding new light on the physical forces at work in large scale climate changes.

*Published in 2021 CASC Brochure*

The Coalition for Academic Scientific Computation (CASC) has over 90 member institutions, including Princeton University.  CASC provides a forum for best practice computing and data services to advance academic research. They recognize that visualization plays a key role in exploring, verifying, and communicating the large amount of data generated by computer simulations. 

CASC publishes an annual brochure of images produced by its members. This visualization was selected for the 2021 CASC brochure and can be found on page 13.

Technology/Software Used

A new workflow was developed to create the visualization.  Written entirely in Python, the visualizer reads variables from netCDF files and color-codes each grid point.  The workflow is tailored to f(x,y,t) data.  The software was also used to create the visualization of soil moisture content. Standardizing on the netCDF format enabled displaying data from a different model with no changes to the visualization software.