Using the Map Viewer [Back to Top]
- How do I display the observation or forecast at a station depicted on the map?
Answer: You can display the observation or forecast for a particular station or zone by clicking on the station or zone's location on the map using the Link to Data tool. In order to do this, you must first be sure that you are using the Link to Data tool on the map. This is done by clicking on the 'Link to Data' tool button below the map so that it is highlighted and becomes the 'active' tool. Then go to the map and click on the station or zone of interest (be sure to click on the actual station and not it's label).
Clicking on the station or zone on the map should result in its being highlighted in green on the map and a second window should open with the web page displaying the observation or forecast. If the second window does not open, you may have a popup blocker configured. If you would not like to disable the popup blocker, you may access the display window by clicking on the 'Open Databrowser' button below the map.
See Question 2 for more information about nowCOAST and popup blockers
- NowCOAST does not return any observations or forecasts when I use the Link to Data map tool, what is the problem? Are my popup blockers interfering?
Answer: NowCOAST is designed to be used with two browser windows opened concurrently. The nowCOAST Viewer contains the map and associated layers and tools. The nowCOAST Databrowser is a secondary window that will open whenever the user requests to display an observation or forecast Web page using the Link to Data tool or display underlying data in nowCOAST's database resulting from an Identify, Select, or Query request on a map layer. The Databrowser window is designed to open automatically once the user makes any of the above requests.
However, many popup blocking tools included in newer Web browsers are designed to disallow a website from opening a secondary window such as the Databrowser. Therefore, you have a few options to overcome this problem when using nowCOAST:
- disable popup blockers for the nowCOAST site (http://nowcoast.noaa.gov) (remember that Internet Explorer Versions 6 & 7 contain their own popup blockers and that additional toolbars integrated with the browser may also have popup-blocking functionality. Such toolbars include Google and Yahoo! search toolbars).
- open the nowCOAST Databrowser window manually by clicking on the 'Open Databrowser' button below the map. You may keep the Databrowser window open for the duration of your session after you first open it, and every subsequent observation or forecast Web page requested will open in the window without popup blocker interference.
- How do I display the observation or forecast at a station depicted on the map?
Answer: The term 'Active Layer' refers to the GIS concept that only one map layer may be interacted with at one time. Although GIS mapping is designed to allow you to show multiple datasets (or layers) on the map simultaneously, only one of those may be queried, selected, or identified when using these tools on the map. This can prevent confusion in cases where several observation stations or forecast zones from different layers overlap on the map and you click on the map expecting to obtain information about only one and instead receive information about several different forecast zones and observation stations from different map layers.
Setting the Active Layer allows you to select one of nowCOAST's map layers to interact with when you use the Link to Data, Identify, Query, and Select by Rectangle tools. Designate the Active Layer by clicking on the radio button next to the name of the layer of choice in the Map Layers list on the right of the map.
- What is the difference between 'Active' and 'Display' for map layers?
Answer: The 'Display' designation in the Map Layers list indicates that a layer is currently displayed on the map. There may be any number of layers displayed on the map at once, one of the features of GIS. Only one layer can be 'Active' at one time, however, as a way of determining a single layer with which to interact with nowCOAST's Link to Data, Identify, Query, and Select by Rectangle tools. Because each layer has it's own underlying dataset, only one dataset can return information resulting from these actions at one time. The 'Active' layer designation, therefore, is a way of picking a layer and corresponding dataset to work with out of the entire group of map layers in nowCOAST.
For more information about the 'Active' layer concept, see Question 3.
- What is the significance of the yellow dot that appears on some observation or forecast stations when I use the Jumpbar?
Answer: The yellow dot indicates that a particular station measures and reports the variable that was selected by the user from the 'Variable' pulldown menu in the nowCOAST Jumpbar above the map. When you select a map layer and an observation or forecast variable using the Jumpbar, nowCOAST dynamically highlights stations meeting the selection criteria with yellow dots. The on-map legend display gives information about the layer and variable type you selected. Stations that don't report on the specified variable (but may report on other variables) are shown with default symbology and no yellow dot.
- How often are the on-map images (e.g. radar) automatically refreshed on the viewer?
Answer: If the automatic refresh feature is enabled (by checking the corresponding box at the top of the Table of Contents), a new map image is generated every 4 minutes to ensure the most recent data and imagery is being displayed.
- Can I view the Latitude/Longitude coordinates of my mouse cursor?
Answer: Yes. nowCOAST has the ability to display the latitude/longitude coordinates of your mouse cursor in your browser's status bar. This option is enabled by default, however most modern browsers require some configuration.
If using Internet Explorer, you can change this setting by going to "Tools > Internet Options", clicking on the "Security" tab, selecting "Internet" and clicking on "Custom level...". In the dialog box that appears, scroll down to the "Scripting" section and make sure the option that says "Allow status bar updates via script" is set to "Enable".
Now you should be able to see the Geographic Coordinates of your mouse near the bottom of your browser window. These coordinates will update as you move your cursor around the map. Below is an example of what you should see in the status bar.
nowCOAST's Content [Back to Top]
- Are there any plans to display other gridded forecasts and analyses on nowCOAST?
Answer: Yes. Presently, nowCOAST displays several gridded forecast fields from the NWS National Digital Forecast Database (Maximum Air Temperature, Minimum Air Temperature, Significant Wave Height, Wind Speed & Direction, and Quantitative Precipitation Forecast). In the future, we plan to display selected gridded fields from NWS and NOS numerical prediction models, as well as other NDFD fields (e.g. Relative Humidity, Probability of Precipitation, etc.).
- Does nowCOAST provide archived observations or forecasts?
Answer: No. nowCOAST only provides links to real-time or near-real-time observations and NOAA forecasts. However, some of the web pages we link to do list observations for the past two days and sometimes have links to pages with archived data (e.g. NDBC & USGS web pages).
- Will nowCOAST display more detailed background layers to give it's database of observing stations and forecasts better context for marine users?
Answer: Future plans for nowCOAST include the addition of raster background layers of NOAA's Coastal Map Series as well as more detailed land background layers such as raster hillshade images satellite-derived land cover images.
- Why is a particular observing network not shown on nowCOAST?
Answer: There could be several reasons for this including: 1) observations from the stations are not posted in real- or near-real-time or not in a consistent manner, 2) the real-time Web page may be down, 3) the URL of the Web page displaying the observations is not specific enough for nowCOAST to link to, 4) geographic coordinates for the station are not available, or 5) we are not aware of the network or station.
- I am aware of a real-time network or station that is not available in nowCOAST. How can I have it included in nowCOAST?
Answer: We are interested in hearing more about your information. Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Can I display observations at locations outside of the United States?
Answer: NowCOAST only provides links to observing and forecast sites within the United States and its territories. There are no plans to provide links to other countries, except for linking to Environment Canada’s official marine and weather text forecasts.
Individual Map Layer Information [Back to Top]
- What is contained in each of the map layers?
Answer: You can find a brief description of the content for each layer by clicking on the map layer name on the ‘Map Layers’ side panel found on the right.
- What is Forecast Model Guidance?
Answer: Forecast model guidance is a computer-based objective forecast generated by a numerical ocean, weather, and/or river model or by a combined numerical-statistical technique (e.g. MOS). These computer-based forecasts are used several times a day by meteorologists and oceanographers as guidance in preparing their subjective forecasts.
- What are those lines around the US coastlines?
Answer: The line represents the 200 nm Exclusive Economic Zone.
System Information [Back to Top]
- Is nowCOAST monitored 24 x 7?
Answer: No. Presently, nowCOAST's web server and spatial data server are only monitored during regular business hours, weekdays. However, we are exploring with NOS/CO-OPS about the possibility of having CO-OPS personnel monitor nowCOAST 24 x 7 in the future.
- How was nowCOAST built? What software was used?
Answer: Refer to the 'Technical Information' page under 'About nowCOAST' for more information about the design of the nowCOAST viewer and the software used in the Web server.
- What server configuration does nowCOAST use?
Answer: NowCOAST currently runs on two separate servers working in conjunction with one another. Both servers run on the RedHat distribution of Linux and are each responsible for handling separate functionality. One server, running Apache 2.0.x web server, Jakarta Tomcat 5.5.x servlet engine, and Environmental System Research Institute's (ESRI's) ArcIMS 9.2 software, is responsible for serving the web application to the client machine. The other server, running Oracle Database 10g & ESRI's Arc Spatial Database Engine (ArcSDE), is responsible for storing nowCOAST's real-time data and allowing the web application to access it.
- Where does nowCOAST obtain its on-map data & imagery from?
Answer: NowCOAST obtains its on-map data & imagery from several different sources. The meteorological & oceanographic real-time on-map surface observations that are displayed on nowCOAST are obtained from two sources: the Meteorological Assimilation Data Ingest System (MADIS) and the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS). For more information about MADIS, see http://madis.noaa.gov/. In addition to surface observations, NESDIS also provides nowCOAST with both visible and infrared imagery obtained from its Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES). For information on NESDIS visit http://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/. The base reflectivity doppler radar mosaic displayed on nowCOAST is RIDGE imagery obtained from the National Weather Service (NWS). For more information about the RIDGE radar product, see http://www.srh.noaa.gov/srh/jetstream/doppler/ridge.htm. The daily Sea Surface Temperature analysis mosaic that can also be overlayed on nowCOAST is a product of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). See NCEP's website at http://www.ncep.noaa.gov/ for more information. Lastly, the gridded forecast fields shown in the table of contents (Maximum/Minimum Air Temperature, Surface Wind Speed/Direction, Significant Wave Height, Quantitative Precipitation Amount) are obtained from the National Digital Forecast Database (NDFD), part of the NWS Digital Services Program. For more information about NDFD, please see http://www.weather.gov/ndfd/.
- How often is the on-map data & imagery updated?
Answer: NowCOAST's near real-time observations, analyses and forecasts are updated at various times throughout the day. The surface meteorological & oceanographic observations obtained from MADIS & NESDIS are updated at 20 minutes past the hour and every 6 minutes after that. The GOES Visible & GOES IR layers are updated with the latest imagery from NESDIS every 15 minutes. The National Weather Service publishes its RIDGE doppler radar mosaic every 4 to 10 minutes, so in order to keep as up-to-date as possible nowCOAST retrieves the latest imagery every 4 minutes. The Sea Surface Temperature analysis obtained from NCEP is updated once per day at 11:00pm and is valid for the past 24 hours. The NDFD gridded forecast fields are currently being updated twice per day at 6am & 6pm Eastern Time, though we hope to perform more frequent updates in the future.
Map Services [Back to Top]
- Does nowCOAST conform to OpenGIS standards?
Answer: NowCOAST presently does not provide an OpenGIS-compatible mapservice (ie. Web Mapping Service [WMS] and/or Web Feature Service [WFS]), however there are plans to implement these features during the upcoming 2008 Fiscal Year. Currently, nowCOAST only provides public access to its ArcIMS Image Service, which can be viewed in ESRI's ArcMap or ArcGIS Explorer. ArcGIS Explorer is available as a free download from ESRI's website. Please see http://www.esri.com for more details.
- Are there plans to move nowCOAST to ArcGIS Server and provide REST services?
Answer: Yes, there are tentative plans to migrate nowCOAST from ArcIMS to the ArcGIS Server platform. However, due to resource limitations and the complexity of the nowCOAST system, a timetable on the transition is not currently available. In the meantime, we hope that users will make use of our ArcIMS Image Service and our OGC-compliant Web Map Services (WMS). More information about nowCOAST's map services can be found here.
- How do I connect to nowCOAST's ArcIMS Image Service to view its data & imagery with ESRI's ArcMap and/or ArcGIS Explorer?
Answer: The following instructions can be used with ESRI's ArcMap or ArcGIS Explorer applications.
1) In a new or existing project, click the Add Data button (the big "+" sign).
2) In the "Look In" dropdown menu, select "GIS Servers".
3) Double click "Add ArcIMS Server".
4) For "URL of server:", type "http://nowcoast.noaa.gov" and click "Get List" button.
5) In the list that appears, check the box next to the "nowcoast" service and hit "OK".
6) Double click on the "nowcoast.noaa.gov" entry that has appeared on the list. The nowCOAST Image Service will appear as a new layer in your Active Data Frame.
Metadata [Back to Top]
- Is there metadata on nowCOAST map layers and how can I get the metadata?
Answer: The nowCOAST metadata is available at the following location: http://www.nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/csdl/op/ncoast_met.html