Experiments that take into account the impact of convective weather on airspace operations, future concepts, and flight deck tools require a source of weather data that is readily available, of predictable quality, and tailorable to experimental objectives. Real-world weather data is sparse, highly random, and disorganized. Weather is dynamic in that it can change rapidly over time, in size, shape, intensity, and location. Also, weather typically is experienced through displays tied to sensors such as weather radars; different systems in the cockpit and on the ground will have different update rates.

Previous methods of inserting weather into a simulated airspace consisted of locating real-world weather with the desired characteristics, then repositioning and adjusting it to suit the experiment. The weakness of using real-world data is in the difficulty of finding weather with appropriate characteristics, and when found, the weather data is sparse, in both coverage and resolution.

The StormGen interactive weather editor was created to facilitate the design and production of dynamic convective weather scenarios by research staff, and to export the weather in formats compatible with widely used air and ground tool simulators. StormGen consists of a standalone executable that runs on the Microsoft Windows 7 (and Windows XP, with the .NET runtime installed), and several supporting data and configuration files.

The editor is run as a standard application program. An editing window is opened on the desktop, providing tools for the user to develop weather scenarios. Once the scenario is developed, the user can chose a data format for exporting the weather. The scenario can be saved, re-opened, and exported multiple times in multiple data formats.

StormGen is a three-dimensional tool. Prior systems that generated weather for 2D displays supported creating weather in two dimensions; however, new concepts, 3D displays, and radar simulators require the kind of 3D weather data that StormGen provides. StormGen supports the creation of key frames of weather, or snapshots of weather at multiple points in time, and provides the capability to interpolate automatically between the key frames to produce the many intermediate states of the weather as it develops. This frees the user from tedious and error-prone work developing numerous weather frames to support dynamic scenarios.

The StormGen weather editor creates and manipulates weather for experimental scenarios; exporting weather formatted for MACS (multi aircraft control system), CSD (cockpit situation display), and other systems; designing dynamic weather; and controlling weather appearance (intensity, size, shape, altitude).

This work was done by Thomas Quinonez, Walter Johnson, and Vernol Battiste of Ames Research Center. This software is available for use. To request a copy, please visit https://software.nasa.gov/software/ARC-16827-1 .

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the May, 2016 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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