The FX-Net Thin Client is a meteorological workstation that provides access to the basic display/browse capability of an AWIPS-I workstation via the Internet. The application is Java-based, so can run on most major platforms, and closely emulates the AWIPS-I workstation (D/2D) user interface. Bandwidth limitations are addressed by using wavelet transform compression to reduce satellite imagery size. The server is a modified AWIPS-I application/data server pair coupled with an Apache HTTP server and can serve time-matched meteorological products, geospatially-synchronizing them to one of the client’s many local, regional, or world scales.
In addition to the shared AWIPS-I functionality, the client also has drawing tools, geospatial markers, Shapefile import, Google Earth export, and help features.
The FX-Net project originated within the Forecast Systems Lab (FSL) as an idea from Dr. Alexander E. MacDonald in 1996, to solve the problem of downloading and viewing large meteorological datasets to field users over lower speed network connections, using familiar user interfaces. The client was designed to run with acceptable performance using only a 56 kb modem. Originally a joint effort between multiple branches of (then) FSL and UCAR, FX-Net eventually became the responsibility of the Global Systems Division (GSD) Technology Outreach Branch (TOB). FX-Net was the first FSL software project of its size/complexity to use Java technology, and also the first thin client project to attempt to emulate the functionality of the AWIPS-I workstation.
FX-Net uses wavelet compression, which was designed in cooperation with the Cooperative Institute of Research of the Atmosphere (CIRA) joint institute. This compression is used to reduce satellite imagery file sizes to facilitate better network efficiency and faster downloads. For example, temperature imagery can be reduced by 50 times (50:1) with no noticeable loss of image fidelity. Likewise, visible imagery can be reduced by a 20:1 compression ratio.
- National Weather Service (NWS) Regional Headquarters
- National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC)
- Air Force One (The Air Force One Meteorological team, stationed at Andrews Air Force base, uses FX-Net in support of the Executive branch fleet.)
- National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP)
- National Climate Data Center (NCDC)
- Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) Field Researchers
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Funded by NOAA/NASA Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) program.