Wind and Weather – Data Driven Digest

It’s the beginning of March, traditionally a month of unsettled early-spring weather that can seesaw back and forth between snow and near-tropical warmth, with fog, rain, and windstorms along the way. Suitably for the time of year, the data visualizations we’re sharing with you this week focus on wind and weather.


You Don’t Need a Weatherman…

Everyone’s familiar with the satellite imagery on the weather segment of your nightly TV news. It’s soothing to watch the wind flows cycle and clouds form and dissipate.  Now an app called Windyty lets you navigate real-time and predictive views of the weather yourself, controlling the area, altitude, and variables such as temperature, air pressure, humidity, clouds, or precipitation.  The effect is downright hypnotic, as well as educational – for example, you can see how much faster the winds blow at higher altitudes or watch fronts pick up moisture over oceans and lakes, then dump it as they hit mountains.

The Windyty site displays wind flows and a variety of other weather data. (Courtesy of Ivo Pavlik)
The Windyty site displays wind flows and a variety of other weather data. (Courtesy of Ivo Pavlik).

Windyty’s creator, Czech programmer Ivo Pavlik, is an avid powder skier, pilot, and kite surfer who wanted a better idea of whether the wind would be right on days he planned to pursue his passions. He leveraged the open-source Project Earth global visualization created by Cameron Beccario (which in its turn draws weather data from NOAA, the National Weather Service, other agencies, and geographic data from the free, open-source Natural Earth mapping initiative).

It’s an elegant example of a visualization that focuses on the criteria users want as they query a very large data source. Earth’s weather patterns are so large, they require supercomputers to store and process.  Pavlik notes that his goal is to keep Windyty a light-weight, fast-loading app that adds new features only gradually, rather than loading it down with too many options.

…To Know Which Way the Wind Blows

Another wind visualization, Project Ukko, is a good example of how to display many different variables without overwhelming viewers.

Named after the ancient Finnish god of thunder, weather, and the harvest, Project Ukko models and predicts seasonal wind flows around the world. It’s a project of Euporias, a European Union effort to create more economically productive weather prediction tools, and is intended to fill a gap between short-term weather forecasts and the long-term climate outlook.

Project Ukko is a and project for Data visualization courtesy of Moritz Stefaner
Project Ukko is a and project for (Data visualization courtesy of Moritz Stefaner).

Ukko’s purpose is to show where the wind blows most strongly and reliably at different times of the year. That way, wind energy companies can site their wind farms and make investments more confidently.  The overall goal is to make wind energy a more practical and cost-effective part of a country’s energy generation mix, reducing dependence on polluting fossil fuels, and improving its climate change resilience, according to Ukko’s website.

The project’s designer, German data visualization expert Moritz Stefaner, faced the challenge of displaying projections of the wind’s speed, direction, and variability, overlaid with locations and sizes of wind farms around the world (to see if they’re sited in the best wind-harvesting areas). In addition, he needed to communicate how confident those predictions were for a given area.

As Stefaner explains in an admirably detailed behind-the-scenes tour, he ended up using line elements that show the predicted wind speed through line thickness and prediction accuracy, compared to decades of historical records, through brightness.  The difference between current and predicted speed is shown through line tilt and color. Note, the lines don’t show the actual direction the winds are heading, unlike the flows in Windyty.

The combined brightness, color, and size draw the eye to the areas of greatest change. At any point, you can drill down to the actual weather observations for that location and the predictions generated by Euporias’ models.

The Project Ukko interface lets you drill down to see the windflow history and prediction accuracy for any location. Courtesy of Moritz Stefaner,
The Project Ukko interface lets you drill down to see the windflow history and prediction accuracy for any location. (Courtesy of Moritz Stefaner,

For those of us who aren’t climate scientists or wind farm owners, the take-away from Project Ukko is how Stefaner and his team went through a series of design prototypes and data interrogations as they transformed abstract data into an informative and aesthetically pleasing visualization.

Innovation Tour 2016

Meanwhile, we’re offering some impressive data visualization and analysis capacities in the next release of our software, OpenText Suite 16 and Cloud 16, coming this spring.  If you’re interested in hearing about OpenText’s ability to visualize data and enable the digital world, and you’ll be in Europe this month, we invite you to look into our Innovation Tour, in Munich, Paris, and London this week and Eindhoven in April.  You can:

  • Hear from Mark J. Barrenechea, OpenText CEO and CTO, about the OpenText vision and the future of information management
  • Hear from additional OpenText executives on our products, services and customer success stories
  • Experience the newest OpenText releases with the experts behind them–including how OpenText Suite 16 and Cloud 16 help organizations take advantage of digital disruption to create a better way to work in the digital world
  • Participate in solution-specific breakouts and demonstrations that speak directly to your needs
  • Learn actionable, real-world strategies and best practices employed by OpenText customers to transform their organizations
  • Connect, network, and build your brand with public and private industry leaders

For more information on the Innovation Tour or to sign up, click here.


Recent Data Driven Digests:

February 29: Red Carpet Edition

February 15: Love is All Around

February 10: Visualizing Unstructured Content

Stannie Holt

Stannie Holt is a Marketing Content Writer at OpenText. She has over 20 years' experience as a journalist, market research analyst, and content marketing expert in the fields of enterprise business software, machine learning, e-discovery, and analytics.

Related Articles