Abstract : 3K.11
Employing the MetGIS-System for the production of high-resolution meteorological and snow-related forecasts over Alpine terrain

Gerald Spreitzhofer, Reinhold Steinacker
Institute of Meteorology and Geophysics, University of Vienna

MetGIS is a new, Java-based combined Meteorological and Geographic Information System, with a specific emphasis on snow and mountain weather. It has been developed within the framework of interdisciplinary international research projects with contributions from research institutes, universities and meteorological services of Austria, Switzerland, Japan, Peru, Chile, Argentina and the USA. A principal focus of the system is the automated production of high-resolution, down-scaled forecast maps of meteorological parameters, using a sophisticated Graphical User Interface.

The geographic part of the system includes a topographic database relying on data of the Shuttle Radar Topographic Mission (SRTM, horizontal resolution approx. 90m) and representations of roads, rivers, railway lines, political borders and cities. Various modes of topography (elevation, slope, aspect) may be displayed, all for thresholds and resolutions free to choose from. On top of these, partly linked to terrain features, down-scaled meteorological information can be visualized in a variety of display styles. Meteorological forecast data of any numerical model can be included into MetGIS and refined by the system, provided the model output is compatible with NetCDF or GrADS-compatible formats. Over the 2006/07 winter season the system performance was tested in a real-time mode at the Institute of Meteorology and Geophysics (University of Vienna) in a quasi-operational environment for various regions of Austria, using four daily runs of the GFS model with a forecast range of 36 hours.

Regarding features of the system specifically related to mountain areas, the high resolution terrain allows a very detailed estimation of the spatial distribution of surface temperature, of the form of precipitation (snow, sleet, rain), of the depth of fresh snow, the height of the snow line and the freezing level. Moreover, the system is already prepared for the integration of the output of snowpack models.