Storms
Visualizing Long-Term, Large Scale Atmospheric Disturbances
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NEXRAD Radar at the WSR-88D Radar Operations Center.
Original Photograph By Andrew J Oldaker -
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:LabNexrad.jpg,
CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3124873
 
Storms videos are created from synthetic computer generated images from the NEXRAD network of weather radar stations. NEXRAD images provide the ubiquitous television weather radar imagery we are all familiar with. NEXRAD or Nexrad (Next-Generation Radar) is a network of 160 high-resolution S-band Doppler weather radars operated by the National Weather Service (NWS), an agency of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the U.S. Air Force. Its technical name is WSR-88D (Weather Surveillance Radar, 1988, Doppler).




NEXRAD sites within the Contiguous U.S.
By National Weather Service - NOAA, Public Domain,
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1344182
 
NEXRAD detects precipitation and atmospheric movement or wind. Storms employs so-called "mosaics" of the entire national network of 160 individual radar site images which are combined to form a single radar image of much of North America. In the images one can view the procession of synthetically colored precipitation bands which continually march across the continent. For these videos the Nexrad images are compositied over a line drawing of the continental US. A small digital clock/calendar is inserted in the lewer left of each frame.

Archived mosaic images are available online and images for every hour of the year, for the years 2000 to the present, are downloaded and encoded into a series of HD video animations, one per year. By presenting each hour of the year as one video frame, the entire year is collapsed into a run-time of just under five minutes. One can perceive seasonal storm patterns and perhaps detect longer-term climate changes.




Single site radar return from Seattle.
By National Weather Service radar.weather.gov, Public Domain,
 
The Storms series is related to the Cloud Flow series but differs in the origin of its imagery. An identical perspective view of North America is presented in both series, but the Cloud Flow images originate from the NOAA/NASA GOES weather satellite infared cameras, again retrieved on an hourly basis from online archives. Instead of being computationally derived synthetic images like Storms, Cloud Flow frames are optical images, originating from hybrid line-scan cameras.

I am interested in the landscape sublime and how it might be manifested through contemporary environmental sensing and imaging systems. Since initial descriptions of the sublime by Burke and Kant, intense weather and storms have been considered to belong to the realm of the sublime. Nineteenth century landscape painters often attempted to capture the sublime in the landscape as manifested by powerful storms, perhaps most notably by Turner. In the nineteenth and twentieth century, as urbanity expanded, humanity became desensitized to the landscape sublime as it was superseded by the technological sublime. Now, with environmental catastrophe threatening, the landscape sublime has begun to reemerge in our consciousness. In this work I seek to provide a modern technological window into the landscape sublime.

Of course it is impossible to discuss the landscape and weather without invoking the specter of climate change. It is natural to attempt to perceive some evidence of climate intensification as one views year after year of weather, all compressed into a few minutes. These videos might be expected to provide a palpable experience of climate change. In fact, detecting such change in them seems difficult, longterm trends being lost in the chaos of short-term weather patterns. Detecting long-term change becomes difficult. The videos provide an experience of the complexity which climate scientists must deal with.