NOAA Earth Information System (NEIS) Development Work at GSD

The Earth System Research Laboratory's Global Systems Division (ESRL/GSD) has begun the process of prototyping concepts for Open Weather and Climate Services (Open WCS). The NOAA Earth Information System (NEIS) is a framework of layered Open WCS services designed to help with the discovery, access, understanding, and visualization of data from the past, present, and future. NEIS includes a visualization component named TerraViz – a multi-platform tool running on multiple operating systems, workstations, and Web browsers, and a services framework component named NEIScore providing data discovery and extraction capabilities to ingest "big data" and convert that information into efficient formats for real-time visualization. Designed for a world where everything is in motion, NEIS and TerraViz allow fluid data integration and interaction across 4D time and space, providing a tool for everything NOAA does and the people NOAA serves.

GSD is working with other groups across NOAA, including the Climate Program Office and the Environment Data Management Committee, to share experiences and help improve these services for all NOAA users. While the concept is visionary, the core requirements of this new system are to:

  • provide access to all information and data for all time scales;
  • provide the information when the user needs it;
  • provide the information in a form the user can interpret; and
  • make information available on all platforms.

The NOAA Science Advisory Board Environmental Information Services Working Group 'Executive Summary' recommendations include developing an Open WCS in which both NOAA and the community share equal and full access to NOAA information and development. This recommendation is based on the finding that various barriers inhibit NOAA's ability to distribute or otherwise make available all of its weather and climate information, particularly high-resolution data sets. New technology and services are not developed within NOAA in a sufficiently symbiotic manner with the broader community such that optimized societal value from that new service or technology is quickly realized.

The NEIScore framework facilitates the discovery and access of real-time and archived NOAA data. Rather than build an entire enterprise architecture from the ground up, development efforts have focused on bringing together the best emerging technologies and existing off-the-shelf technologies where possible. NEIScore is based on the Apache Solr project for discovery and many of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards for data access.

Continuing the philosophy of taking advantage of existing off-the-shelf technologies, TerraViz was built using the Unity game engine. Video games are a multi-billion dollar industry, and represent an ideal choice for pushing millions of points of data to a user in real time. Taking advantage of the most recent advances in utilizing Graphical Processing Units (GPUs), a user can interact with large data sets in real time that might not have been possible before.

Across NOAA and other government agencies there exists a wide variety of environmental data and information systems meeting various agency missions. To meet NOAA's mission – to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts, to share that knowledge and information with others, and to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources – NOAA's data and systems need to be easily accessible and interoperable. Achieving this wukk lead to a more efficient organization and greatly improved benefits to society.

Contact information
Name: Jebb Stewart
Tel: 303-497-6724
jebb.q.stewart@noaa.gov