A web service based tool to plan atmospheric research flights
Abstract. We present a web service based tool for the planning of atmospheric research flights. The tool provides online access to horizontal maps and vertical cross-sections of numerical weather prediction data and in particular allows the interactive design of a flight route in direct relation to the predictions. It thereby fills a crucial gap in the set of currently available tools for using data from numerical atmospheric models for research flight planning. A distinct feature of the tool is its lightweight, web service based architecture, requiring only commodity hardware and a basic Internet connection for deployment. Access to visualisations of prediction data is achieved by using an extended version of the Open Geospatial Consortium Web Map Service (WMS) standard, a technology that has gained increased attention in meteorology in recent years. With the WMS approach, we avoid the transfer of large forecast model output datasets while enabling on-demand generated visualisations of the predictions at campaign sites with limited Internet bandwidth. Usage of the Web Map Service standard also enables access to third-party sources of georeferenced data. We have implemented the software using the open-source programming language Python. In the present article, we describe the architecture of the tool. As an example application, we discuss a case study research flight planned for the scenario of the 2010 Eyjafjalla volcano eruption. Usage and implementation details are provided as Supplement.