Visualizing Katrina - Merging computer simulations with observations

Werner Benger, Shalini Venkataraman, Amanda Long, Gabrielle Allen, Stephen David Beck, Maciej Brodowicz, Jon MacLaren, Edward Seidel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Hurricane Katrina has had a devastating impact on the US Gulf Coast, and her effects will be felt for many years. Forecasts of such events, coupled with timely response, can greatly reduce casualties and save billions of dollars. We show how visualizations from storm surge and atmospheric simulations were used to understand the predictions of how strong, where, and when flooding would occur in the hours leading up to Katrina's landfall. Sophisticated surface, flow and volume visualization techniques show these simulation results interleaved with actual observations, including satellite cloud images, GIS aerial maps and LIDAR showing the 3D terrain of New Orleans. The sheer size and complexity of the data in this application also motivated research in efficient data access mechanisms and rendering algorithms. Our goals were to use the resulting animation as a vehicle for raising awareness in the general populace to the true impact of the event, to create a scientifically accurate representation of the storm and its effects, and to develop a workflow to create similar visualizations for future and simulated hurricanes. Screenings of the animation have been well received, both by the general public and by scientists in the field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationApplied Parallel Computing
Subtitle of host publicationState of the Art in Scientific Computing - 8th International Workshop, PARA 2006, Revised Selected Papers
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)9783540757542
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes
Event8th International Workshop on Applied Parallel Computing, PARA 2006 - Umea, Sweden
Duration: Jun 18 2007Jun 21 2007

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume4699 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Other8th International Workshop on Applied Parallel Computing, PARA 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Science(all)


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