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Managing, Modeling, and Visualizing

High-Dimensional Spatio-Temporal Data in an


Integrated System
LARS BERNARD, BENNO SCHMIDT, ULRICH STREIT AND CHRISTOPH UHLENKÜKEN
Institute for Geoinformatics, Robert-Koch-Str. 26-28, 48149 Münster, Germany
{bernard,benno,streit,uhlenku}@uni-muenster.de

Abstract
An approach to an interoperable object-oriented GIS-framework for atmospheric modeling
(AtmoGIS), which can be used to implement integrated information systems, is presented. The
consideration of user-workflows leads to the specification of the projected system. Using an object-
oriented approach, the system is based on a spatio-temporal database management system, a
mesoscale model and an environment for scientific visualization.
Keywords: integration, interoperability, object-oriented design, GIS-kernel, workflow analysis,
scientific visualization, high dimensional data.

1. Introduction

Geographic information system (GIS) technology offers tools for use in human-computer
environments. GIS software processes spatial data that cannot be "understood" by the
machine, whose abilities are limited to data storage, manipulation and visualization. Seen
from a data flow perspective, spatial information goes through different representations or
"filters" on its way from data capture and generation to visual representation. Data
semantics is often distorted or even lost during this process, i.e., these representations can
not be interpreted correctly by GIS users. With regard to GIS-based spatio-temporal
geoscientific modeling, this aspect becomes increasingly important.
Access to data semantics is necessary to gain knowledge about the model assumptions,
the quality of input data etc. This information can be used within the analysis environment
to represent the validity of the generated maps and the underlying assumptions. By this
means, the user can interpret and evaluate the results of geoscientific models adequately.
Furthermore, this supports transparent model-based and GIS-based decision-making
processes.
Considerations about linking geoscientific models and GIS started in the late 1980's
(e.g., [11]). Examples can be found in [17] and [41]. A survey of different linking
strategies for GIS and spatial models is given by [29]. He describes two main classes of
linking strategies:
1. Coupling. The applications do not share their data and act more or less independently.
Robustness and simplicity are the characteristic features of these solutions. Data
redundancy, loss of semantics and decreasing performance are disadvantageous
aspects.
2 BERNARD, SCHMIDT, STREIT, AND UHLENKÜKEN

2. Integration. The applications work on one and the same data and interact; this allows
fast data access. The integrated architecture allows the design of software with a high
degree of usability. But it can also result in monolithic systems, which cause high
development and maintenance costs.
On the one hand, most scientific models do not allow external applications, such as GIS,
to access their functionality. GIS, on the other hand, do not offer a suitable environment
for developing and processing complex numerical models. In particular, current GIS do
not support temporal 2D and 3D spatial data. Thus, an integration of spatio-temporal
models and GIS is not yet possible [30], [8], [4]. But coupling spatio-temporal models
and GIS means exchanging huge amounts of data. The transfer of 4D models results in
3D or 2D GIS data models and is accompanied by a great loss of data semantics.
As a conclusion, two main research issues in the field of GIS, spatio-temporal models
and visualization can be identified:
1. Spatio-temporal data models must become usable in GIS.
2. GIS, geoscientific modeling and visualization systems have to be split up into
interoperable components, which can be integrated in any needed information system
without building just another monolith.
These issues had also been detected as the main goals of the initiative for Interoperable
Geoscientific Information Systems [24]. The formulation of the second research issue
mentioned must be completed by defining the term interoperable. For both the developer
and the user, utilization of interoperable components or applications means "to overcome
tedious batch conversion tasks, import/export obstacles, and distributed resource access
barriers imposed by heterogeneous processing environments and heteregeneous data"
[10]. Assuming more than one application can perform a specified operation on the data,
interoperability ideally would mean the freedom to choose one of those applications (cf.
[2]). Interoperability requires communication between the applications. Various
techniques exist to achieve this goal:
1. specification of common data exchange formats,
2. using a common data model (e.g., the relational data model),
3. offering application programming interfaces (APIs), which allow the access to data
and methods of the components (e.g., via a C++ interface) or use of object models
such as the common object request broker architecture (CORBA) or the distributed
component object model (DCOM).
The ascending order of these strategies implies a decreasing loss of data semantics. There
are some basic conditions that have to be fulfilled to enable interoperability, e.g. precise
data descriptions that are available to all applications. An approach of an open and
universal specification is the open geodata model provided by the Open GIS Consortium
[32]. Further on, descriptions of the methods are needed: an application must know what
a cooperating application performs on the shared data.
With regards to coupling or integrating GIS and spatial models, the definition of
interoperability should be restricted to those strategies which allow full access to the data
and methods of the components. This way the loss of semantics can be kept low. The
MANAGING, MODELING, AND VISUALIZING ... IN AN INTEGRATED SYSTEM 3

APIs or object model technology help to achieve the required communication between
those components involved in the process.

long-term development costs


interoperability
cooperation ability

coupling integration

data redundancy no conversion

usability

Figure 1. Coupling, integration and interoperability of applications.

Figure 1 illustrates the proposed distinction of the basic terms interoperability, coupling
and integration. The shaded area represents the integration of interoperable components
in a specific system. These solutions can be characterized by fast data access without
redundancy, a high degree of usability and moderate long term software development
costs.

2. GIS and atmospheric models

In this paper the focus will be on the application of mesoscale atmospheric models.
Nevertheless, most of the considerations and conclusions in the following sections should
be transferable to the application areas of microscale and macroscale models.

2.1. The application of mesoscale models


Mesoscale phenomena can roughly be defined by their spatial and temporal extensions.
Their horizontal scale is on the order of a few kilometers to several 100 kilometers. The
vertical scale is more or less limited by the troposphere, the duration being approximately
1 to 12 hours [34]. Well known examples of mesoscale phenomena are mountain winds or
land and sea breezes [31], [43]. The study of these phenomena requires spatial and
temporal information about all kind of meteorological variables. The existing network of
4 BERNARD, SCHMIDT, STREIT, AND UHLENKÜKEN

official weather stations cannot provide meteorological data in a sufficient resolution.


Mesoscale models, however, enable the calculation of the meteorological parameters'
distribution with a horizontal resolution of around 500 m, a vertical resolution between 5
and 500 m and a temporal resolution of about 20 s. Assuming mesoscale models are
validated, they offer a comparatively cheap and fast tool to attain the required data.
Considering the application areas of mesoscale models, one can easily identify
different kinds of user profiles (cf. [25]). There are scientists using mesoscale models to
study different kinds of mesoclimatic processes, e.g. the formation of
• land and sea breezes [18],
• mountain winds [28],
• low level jets.
Some scientists are directly involved in the development of mesoscale models (model
developers). Furthermore, there are users who focus on the application of mesoscale
models for planning purposes. Planners need models
• to evaluate the effects of planning scenarios on climate [19] and air quality [21] in
urban planning,
• to map frost sensitive areas [3] in agriculture,
• to estimate the wind potential to find optimal locations for wind plants in energy
management,
• for the risk assessment of air pollution scenarios [16] or to forecast forest fire
propagation in environmental monitoring.
The model results are aggregated and used together with the results of other studies to
support decision-making in planning processes. The resulting maps, showing different
scenarios, are presented to the intended decision-makers and citizens.

2.2. Linkage to GIS

A main part of the model input data are 2D rasters describing landuse and terrain of the
investigation area. In all application fields the quality of these basic data has decisive
influence on the model results. GIS facilitate the preprocessing of the model input by
providing tools to
• access existing spatial databases providing the input data,
• aggregate data from different sources (particularly, focusing on data quality),
• preprocess the input data for the model run (resampling, modifying spatial data for
different scenarios etc.).
ATKIS
scenario
DEM landuse
modification

planner

preprocessing model input simulation model output data exploration knowledge

Figure 2. Mesoscale modeling process.


input
parameters
modification

boundary landuse numerical model scientist


conditions parameters model parameters

model
modification

model developer
MANAGING, MODELING, AND VISUALIZING ... IN AN INTEGRATED SYSTEM

ements
measur
5
6 BERNARD, SCHMIDT, STREIT, AND UHLENKÜKEN

Since current GIS are mostly 2D, they can not support the postprocessing of the model
results (see chapter 1). Hence, only a few attempts have been made to couple mesoscale
models with GIS (e.g., [9], [8]). Efforts to couple 4D atmospheric models and GIS within
the context of environmental, regional and urban planning can hardly be found. A
rationalized GIS-based application of mesoscale models for planning processes, which
allows a facile control of the model run and an efficient analysis of the model results, is
still missing. This is one of the main reasons for the prevailing nonobservance of the high
quality results of the complex models in planning reports.

2.3. Modeling Workflow

A brief overview of the system requirements according to the user profiles mentioned
above, will serve to specify the projected interoperable GIS-framework for atmospheric
modeling (AtmoGIS). Based on this framework, different integrated information systems
can be implemented.
The main steps in the application of atmospheric models and GIS are
1. preprocessing of model input data,
2. using the model for numerical simulation,
3. postprocessing of model results,
4. presenting the results.
Model developers, scientists and planners might pass the first three steps several times in
a kind of cycle before they can present results. Typically decision-makers and citizens are
only confronted with the planners' presentations which demonstrate the model results for
different scenarios.
Figure 2 illustrates different workflows. At least three working cycles can be
distinguished:
1. Model developers' activities are focused on the validation of the numerical model. To
do this, model algorithms, values or even the structure of physical landuse parameters
or model control switches are modified and tested during various runs. Mainly
performing analytical studies, direct access to spatial databases is seldom necessary.
2. Scientists are in particular interested in the investigation of mesoscale phenomena.
Furthermore sensitivity analyses considering the model parameters are carried out.
Also the practicability of models is examined by comparing model results with
measured data. Scientists also develop tools for planning purposes, e.g. to aggregate
the model results, to derive physical parameters needed by the model directly from the
landuse data, etc.
3. The planner's efforts concentrate on assessment of different scenarios. They
preprocess the needed input data and modify the data according to the studied
scenarios. The comparison of different scenarios leads to the formulation of
recommendations for decision-makers.
user model developer scientist planner decision-maker citizen

main model validation study of mesoscale derivation of planning decision-support information


purpose and improvement phenomena, development recommendations
of planning tools
function API macro-language, GUI, GUI, (macro-language) GUI (restricted) GUI (restricted)
access (API)

GIS • facilitate data input • facilitate data input • access geo-databases and - -
• support model • to derive model parameters evaluate data quality
prepro- nesting (4D data from accessible data • combine different data
cessing assimilation) • access and evaluate data sources
tools to ... quality • support the selection of model
c
input parameters
o • support scenario construction
m modeling • provide fast data • choose models • provide valid and stable • provide access to • provide access
tools to ... access • store model results without simulations model to model
p • support 4D data loss of semantics • document model assumptions assumptions assumptions
o • support specific • access the model
modeling features functionality
n

Figure 3. Requirements on different abstraction levels


(e.g., staggered
e grids, terrain-
following
n
coordinates)
t GIS • compare different • combine and compare • aggregate results • compile • choose different
model results model and measurement • detect cold air flows etc. presentations presentations
s postpro- (geostatistical results (geostatistical • document the
• combine model and
cessing functions)... functions) measurement results decision process
and ViSC • provide full access to • derive planning maps...
tools to .. semantic data...
MANAGING, MODELING, AND VISUALIZING ... IN AN INTEGRATED SYSTEM

decreasing user knowledge about modeling structure and techniques


7
8 BERNARD, SCHMIDT, STREIT, AND UHLENKÜKEN

It is obvious that the system developer and the application programmer have to take
different users' profiles into account. Figure 3 gives an overview of the system
requirements. From left to right, knowledge about numerical models and their
assumptions decreases. This must go along with an increase of the abstraction degree of
the provided functionality
Model developers work intensively with the system and usually want to use APIs for
component integration. They primarily need fast access to 4D data, mainly raster data.
Naturally model developers know the characteristics of the grids' geometry; therefore they
are able to use low level access functions. Furthermore various techniques to treat
boundary values have to be provided, ranging from standard techniques (von Neumann
conditions, radiation conditions) up to more elaborated techniques such as 4D data
assimilation to incorporate measurements result (see [16]) or to support model nesting.
In most cases mesoscale models use terrain-following coordinates to consider the
topography of the investigation area. Model variables are typically discretized on
staggered grids (see [34]). Scientists and planners working on the model results, normally
do not know these specifics. Therefore the implemented system have to provide suitable
query techniques to prevent from misinterpretation. Statistical functions and filters are
needed to aggregate the model results (classification, averaging in 4D, etc.). These
functions are also required for the implementation of planning tools focusing on data
aggregation, e.g. the calculation of cold air mass flows to evaluate nocturnal cold air
production rates. Scientists intensively use the integrated systems implemented by the
model developers. Typically, they use macro languages or GUIs (Graphical User
Interface) to control the system, whereas planners work with the integrated and validated
system. To guarantee a safe and far-reaching automated application, they use suitable
GUIs.

2.4. Visual Data Exploration

Suitable tools are needed to explore high-dimensional simulation results. To extract the
decisive structures and to recognize the underlying relations and phenomena, the human
visual sense is most suitable. The scientific discipline of Visualization in Scientific
Computing (ViSC; [27]) offers a collection of methods, which can be used for this
purpose [20].
Raw data are of no value as long as they are not brought into a useful form. Hence
different transformation operations will be performed. Particularly filter operators influ-
ence the view on the data. Various selection criteria such as spatial or temporal queries,
thematic selections, smoothing operators, level-of-detail filters etc. are common
techniques to extract the "relevant" information. This way relationships between the
visualized themes, space and time can be identified more easily.
According to the nature of the processed data and the addressee, one has to select an
appropriate visualization method. Doing so, the relevant elements can be highlighted in
order to make the considered processes transparent.
MANAGING, MODELING, AND VISUALIZING ... IN AN INTEGRATED SYSTEM 9

rendering image derivation presentation

public
data subset visual analysis
private

model output
data filtering information condensation knowledge
data

Figure 4. Data exploration process

Figure 4 illustrates the process of data exploration considering the filter and mapping
methods mentioned above. All in all it is an interactive and iterative process in which the
human being with his/her visual sense and his/her scientific background is directly
involved. The main purposes of this process are to extract new scientific expert
knowledge through visual exploration and to support the explanation of geoscientific
phenomena for public presentation [12]. Regarding GIS, not only an advanced
visualization environment, but also new analysis functions are offered. Model validation
by visually comparing simulation data and simultaneously measured data also has to be
mentioned.
The transfer of computer-assisted, but "monologically" found results, is a special task
inside the AtmoGIS environment. The same results can be evaluated by different persons
in different ways depending on their scientific backgrounds, experiences, opinions, the
actual situation, etc. Within this context, semantic meta-information will support the
transfer from private knowledge into the public domain. One of the goals of AtmoGIS is
to make the (spatial) data's processing history accessible (see 2.3). Regarding
visualization, the discipline of cartography provides assistance to generate interpretable,
graphical representations of spatial information for the purpose of both presentation and
exploration [26].
At the Münster Institute for Geoinformatics, ViSC requirements were determined.
This was done through the application of various existing visualization software packages
(such as AVS and Vis5D; see [1], [22]), opinion polls and strategic considerations. The
requirements can be summarized as follows [36], [37], [38]:
1. Supported visualization techniques: Quite a lot of visualization techniques should be
included in a suitable software solution. For the considered purposes, the most
common shading methods, texture mapping facilities, generation of isolines and
isosurfaces, slicing functions, display of vector fields, flow visualization, color editing
and reclassification functions, glyph representations, volume rendering and animation
are needed.
10 BERNARD, SCHMIDT, STREIT, AND UHLENKÜKEN

2. Different degrees of interactivity: This may vary from completely interactive data
exploration to self-running videos, e.g. MPEGs, for pure presentation purposes.
3. Level of abstraction: It may change from abstract symbolic diagrams (glyphs) to
photorealistic representations (as the other extreme). Mostly the chosen level depends
on the addressee (lay person vs. professional).
4. Dynamically linked views: Windows (viewports) have to be linked dynamically, i.e.
performing an action inside a window should update the other windows' contents [40].
5. Feature space representation: It can be helpful to show the graph of the data values of
one theme against the values of other themes (scatterplot; e.g. temperature against
elevation).
6. Transparent algorithms: The numerical methods to compute isolines, trajectories etc.
should be transparent. Furthermore, there should be the possibility to integrate user-
defined algorithms and to extract (user-defined) features such as local circulation
systems, ventilation zones or areas of cold air production.
7. Providing meta-data: Meta-data management systems could be very valuable tools
throughout the data exploration process (e.g., syntactic and semantic information, data
quality, private knowledge, model assumptions).
8. Navigation tools: Orientation and navigation ("where am I?", "where to go?"
respectively) in time, space and thematic dimensions can be difficult. Hence a com-
prehensive visualization environment should give hardware and software assistance to
the user throughout the data exploration process (e.g., by using modern 3D input and
output hardware such as data gloves and shutter glasses, or appropriate graphical input
devices such as sliders, dialers, birdeye windows to keep the overall view, trackballs
etc.).
9. Visualization of volumes with indeterminate boundary: Many geoscientific
applications deal with continuously changing phenomena. For atmospheric modeling,
fog, air pollution and cold air flows are important features that have to be extracted
and visualized.
10. Support of geodetical coordinate systems: The software must support various map
projections and allow the combination of data with different coordinate systems.
Functions to query positions, distances, areas and volumes have to be provided.
11. Providing GIS functionalities: Various classical GIS functionalities, such as spatial
queries or thematic overlay procedures, are needed inside the visualization
environment.
12. Cartographic design: As mentioned above, attention should be paid to graphical and
cartographic design guidelines.
MANAGING, MODELING, AND VISUALIZING ... IN AN INTEGRATED SYSTEM 11

Especially the requirements 10., 11. and 12. indicate ViSC technology's deficit in the field
of geoscientific application. At the Münster Institute for Geoinformatics, the term
"GeoViSC" was coined; this reflects the lack of geo-functionality in ViSC.

3. Approach to an integrated system (AtmoGIS)

In this chapter, the software engineering aspects of AtmoGIS will be discussed. A


discussion of the system architecture and the C++ concepts to integrate the system
components will follow a brief description of the object-oriented approach.

3.1. The object-oriented approach


The AtmoGIS development activities are based on the object-oriented paradigm [35]. As
a key concept of object-orientation, functionality and data of design entities are
encapsulated in a single whole called an object. Programming languages that support
object-oriented programming provide the following three concepts: encapsulation,
dynamic binding and inheritance. The implementation of AtmoGIS was performed in C++
[42].
Encapsulation is a comfortable way to hide an object's implementation. The focus lies
on the specification of an object's interface, i.e. multiple implementations or
representations can exist for one and the same object, which keeps its identity.
As mentioned before, one of the design goals is to minimize the loss of data
semantics. For this reason, spatio-temporal object identities are preserved and
representation transformations are avoided where possible. The arrangement of object
classes into hierarchies and the use of inheritance provides a helpful mechanism to
manage semantic meta-data on different abstraction levels.
Figure 5 illustrates the applied object-oriented techniques by giving a simple
AtmoGIS example. Here ModelWindGrid is a base class implementation providing fast
access to the model data by use of 4D indices. Inside the derived class PlannerWindGrid
this access function is overloaded by a function which allows queries by use of geodetic
coordinates. To use the overloaded function, explicit knowledge of the grid's structure and
geometry is not necessary. The class ModelWindGrid provides a simple drawing function
show(), which is called by the visualization classes. By overwriting this virtual drawing
function of the base class ModelWindGrid, the derived class PlannerWindGrid can define
its own visual representation. Thus, using dynamic binding, a visualization class must not
"know" any derived class of the base class ModelWindGrid. A suitable visual
representation will be generated just by sending the message show().
12 BERNARD, SCHMIDT, STREIT, AND UHLENKÜKEN

decreasing user knowledge about modeling structure and techniques


// Definition of the base class:
class ModelWindGrid {
...
WindVector getData(index i,j,k,l);
// fast data access,
// assuming the model knows the
// extent and geometry of the grid
...
virtual bool show(window w);
// draws streamlines
// (typical "expert visualization")
...
}

// Definition of derived class:


class PlannerWindGrid : public ModelWindGrid {
...
WindVector getData(coordinate x,y,z,t);
// overloads the access function:
// returns an interpolated value for
// the given real world coordinates
...
virtual bool show(window w);
// draws 3D wind arrows
// overwrites the function show()
// and thus allows dynamic binding
...
}
...

Figure 5. C++ implementation, illustrating inheritance and dynamic binding

The application developer does not have to take care, whether AtmoGIS uses a simple file
system solution or a spatio-temporal database management system. Hence a kind of
"virtual" data manager could be set up.

3.2. System components

The complete system consists of the following basic components. Figure 6 shows the
system architecture.

3.2.1. GOODAC: a spatio-temporal database core


GOODAC (geo-object-oriented database core) is a first prototype realization of OOGDM
(object-oriented geo-data model), implemented on top of the commercial ODBMS
MANAGING, MODELING, AND VISUALIZING ... IN AN INTEGRATED SYSTEM 13

ObjectStore. OOGDM is intended to be an open basis for the development of GIS


applications [44], [6]. All common GIS types are supported by OOGDM, i.e. point data,
raster-based and vector-based data in 1D, 2D, 3D space and time. GOODAC classes can
be accessed via a C++ API or an object-oriented geographic query language (OOGQL).

[incr Tcl] GUI

stubs

iterators
S_KIMO

AtmoGIS MAM / VRS


...

GOODAC file system XGL ...

Figure 6. AtmoGIS architecture

3.2.2. AtmoGIS: a GIS-framework for atmospheric modeling


AtmoGIS is a GIS-framework for atmospheric modeling based on the database core
GOODAC [7]. AtmoGIS provides classes to manage the model input data. These classes
perform plausibility checks, offer resample functions, tools to estimate landuse
parameters (e.g., soil heat conductivity, emissivity) etc. The modeling classes manage the
4D simulation variables and support staggered grids and terrain-following coordinates.
The analysis classes are derived from the model classes and offer classification tools, 4D
interpolation routines and query functions to access the variables via geodetic coordinates
etc. AtmoGIS classes can also be accessed via a C++ API or [incr Tcl] (see below).

3.2.3. S_KIMO-3: a hydrostatic mesoscale model


The numerical mesoscale model S_KIMO-3 simulates the temporal and spatial
distribution of the meteorological parameters wind speed, wind direction, temperature and
humidity in the planetary boundary layer. The model was developed at the Münster
Institute for Geoinformatics to study nocturnal cold air drainage flows [7]. As a result, the
current version is restricted to simulate calm and clear nights. S_KIMO-3 is based on the
14 BERNARD, SCHMIDT, STREIT, AND UHLENKÜKEN

equations of motion, assuming hydrostatic and incompressible flows. By calculating the


long wave radiation divergence, the nocturnal cooling rates are estimated. The model
variables are placed on a four dimensional staggered grid and the equations are solved
using explicit differences. S_KIMO uses AtmoGIS classes via a C++ API.

3.2.4. MAM/VRS: a visualization toolkit


The visualization functions will be built on top of the object-oriented 3D graphics
framework MAM/VRS [13], [14]. MAM, the Modeling and Animation Machine, inte-
grates geometric modeling, animation and interaction. The Virtual Rendering System
VRS will be used together with MAM, thus supporting several standard 3D graphics
packages such as OpenGL or XGL. MAM and VRS classes can be accessed via a C++
API or [incr Tcl].
MAM/VRS integrates application data into visualization processes by iterator objects,
shape objects, and shape painter objects. The design focuses on an efficient link between
application data and visualization primitives. Iterator objects provide methods to traverse
application data, e.g. a list of vertices and vertex normals for points of a regular grid.
Inside the AtmoGIS classes, iterator objects can be built according to the local AtmoGIS
data structures. The only requirement is that these iterator objects provide the methods
defined by an abstract iterator class. Most of MAM/VRS built-in shape objects do not
define how data is represented and do not store geometric data. Shape objects import all
necessary data at run time using iterators. Therefore, application data need not to be
converted into a special graphics format. As a result, memory costs are low since data is
not duplicated and execution time is saved. Furthermore, iterators establish a live link
between application data and visual representation.

3.2.5. [incr Tcl]: a GUI builder


A suitable user interface is needed to use and to control the components mentioned above.
The interpretive tool command language Tcl, the Tcl-based GUI toolkit Tk [33] and the
object-oriented Tcl extension [incr Tcl] [45] are used to accommodate the demand for
platform independence (PC solutions under Windows NT have to be supported, as well as
high-end workstations under UNIX). Here, Tcl acts as a "glue language" and provides
flexible interactive GUI development.
A stub generator is used to access AtmoGIS and MAM/VRS objects from [incr Tcl]
[15]. The basic idea of the generator is to work with C++ objects and C++ libraries using
Tcl scripts. To do so, the Tcl interpreter must be extended to integrate the new commands
which access the C++ objects. An [incr Tcl] class is generated automatically for each C++
class. The [incr Tcl] classes use stub commands which are generated automatically as
well. These stubs are C functions which extend the interpreter. Basically, a stub delegates
a request for an [incr Tcl] object to the corresponding C++ object, and converts result
values and parameter values between both worlds. Consequently, there is access to any
C++ library by [incr Tcl]. The great variety of Tk components and mega-widgets
provided by [incr Tcl] facilitate and speed up the development of graphical user
interfaces.
MANAGING, MODELING, AND VISUALIZING ... IN AN INTEGRATED SYSTEM 15

4. Further research

Taking advantage of the system’s open and interoperable concept, an integration of other
modeling techniques such as cellular automata can be realized. Besides the use of these
more technical aspects, the applicability of the described concepts in other geoscientific
disciplines, e.g. hydrology, should be tested.
The difficulty of choosing appropriate filter and mapping techniques for specific tasks
leads to the idea of using knowledge-based methods. Related approaches for 2D GIS
already exist [23]. Knowledge-bases could also be used for extended plausibility checks,
especially in planning applications.
The distribution of measured spatial data or model results is an important task, which
can realized by using new Internet technologies. In the near future especially VRML-like
(Virtual Reality Modeling Language, see [39]) specifications could offer a suitable file
format for providing data via the World Wide Web. Further on viewing tools or
comparatively simple visualization modules, realized in Java or Tcl/Tk, could be made
available for Internet users. Using Web-technology, it would be possible to make
AtmoGIS data available worldwide.

Acknowledgements

The AtmoGIS works were carried out under the "(3+1)D-GIS" project, which is part of
the IOGIS programme (Initiative for Interoperable Geoscientific Information Systems) of
the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG grant no. STR 172/8-1. The ViSC works are
part of the Westfalian research project "Bits, Bilder, Bedeutung", founded by the
Wissenschaftsministerium Nordrhein-Westfalen, MWF grant no. IV A 3-1076 012 96.
Furthermore, we would like to thank Werner Kuhn and Jürgen Döllner for their advice
and time.

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18 BERNARD, SCHMIDT, STREIT, AND UHLENKÜKEN

Lars Bernard was born in Dortmund, Germany, in 1969. He received a diploma in


Geography from the University of Münster, Germany, in 1995. His research interests at
the Münster Institute for Geoinformatics include numerical geoscientific modeling and
spatial interpolation using object-oriented techniques. His doctoral research is directed
towards integration of mesoscale meteorological models in GIS for environmental
planning purposes. At con terra GmbH, Münster, he developed various GIS software
components.

Benno Schmidt was born in 1964 in Werne, Germany. He received a diploma in


computer science from the University of Dortmund, Germany, in 1991. From 1991 to
1996, he worked on CAD-based GIS solutions in the development department of Geopro
GmbH, Münster, Germany. In June 1996, he joined the Institute for Geoinformatics,
Münster. His current interests include visualization techniques for high-dimensional
spatio-temporal data and the coupling of GIS applications and ViSC techniques.
MANAGING, MODELING, AND VISUALIZING ... IN AN INTEGRATED SYSTEM 19

Ulrich Streit (born 1944, doctorate 1970, habilitation 1979) is Professor of


Geoinformatics at the Institute for Geoinformatics, University of Münster in Germany,
which he founded in 1994. The main fields of research are: geographic information
systems, methods for digital data acquisition in the field and mobile geoprocessing,
numerical and statistical analysis of spatial data, modeling of dynamic spatial processes,
new methods for visualizing geodata, and Web mapping. In addition, he is founder and
part owner of two spin off enterprises (con terra GmbH, pro_Plant GmbH), a consultant
of public administrations and a referee for various research institutions.

Christoph Uhlenküken was born in 1966 in Lippstadt, Germany. He received a


diploma in Geography from the University of Münster, Germany, in 1995. In 1992, he
joined the Institute for Geoinformatics, where he is currently involved in geoscientific
visualization of high-dimensional spatio-temporal data, application development of GIS
and Web-based techniques, and spatial interpolation methods. Further activities include
GIS consulting at con terra GmbH, Münster.