Turning scientific data into 3D animatedvideos for ECMWF

Client ECMWF
Media Film, Video
Category Tech, Web, App
Location Cologne
Year 2017-2018


Design & Data was commissioned by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) to take real scientific data and turn it into a 3D animated video. This video aimed to visualize the hole in the ozone layer over the Antarctic South Pole over time. The creation of this animation involved using specific NetCDF (Network Common Data Form) datasets from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, i.e., datasets, analyses, forecasts, and surface parameters. Once the data was obtained, it would then need to be conveyed in an interactive, engaging, and easily understandable 3D-animation format.

Idea, solution

To collect the data we needed, we extracted 25 layers of ozone data from each NetCDF file using an in-house Python script, which allowed us to generate a coloured 3D model of Earth. For visualization purposes, we extracted only the GMES Ozone (go3) pressure level and GMES total column ozone (gtco3) parameters. To create the animation, we used NetCDF files that were processed in 6-hour intervals, resulting in 4 frames per day. For the entire period (07.07.2018 – 02.01.2019), we processed a total of 728 datasets to provide an accurate representation of the extent of the ozone hole. Additionally, we added a counter on each frame to illustrate the date during the given year so that the time period of the ozone hole could be visualized accurately.


In the end, we produced a final 57-minue animation, detailing the specific ozone hole data in a visual manner. We first successfully created a 3D animation for 2017, which tested the process of visualizing 3D NetCDF data. This process was then used to create a 2018 version on a weekly basis, demonstrating the current and actual evolution of ozone within the atmosphere.

If you are looking to create interactive 3D animation, contact us today to see how we can help.


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