After cross sections plots were developed, the natural evolution of a new tool became the XC Explorer. This single tool allows users to literally draw routes on a map for anywhere on the planet (except below 60 deg. south) for any given forecast time. The tool supports historical data viewing as well. We started archiving data in Dec. 2008 to support this new app.
XC Explorer is a first of its kind thanks to the integrated route feature. To the best of our knowledge, there is nothing else like it available, even in a generic weather forecasting tool. The ability to arbitrarily draw any route across any span of the planet, day or night, is an astonishing technological feat given that the results are computed in less than a second. The largest amount of time the process takes is writing the plots to a scratch disk. This real-time exploring of the boundary layer is sure to make waves commercially, as well in research and visualization.
In the same spirit as computing forecasts along a route, we've developed increased capacity for 3 day point forecasts. There is no longer a time lag in data, and the results are computed in less than a second. If you have a reasonable connection to the internet, you'll appreciate the ability to explore anything, anywhere.
The domain (track length) can span as large as you like. For example, you could examine an entire cross section of a continent with a track of 1000's of km long, and still get results back within a few seconds. Of course, most of our routes will be on the order of 100's of km.
There is a nice tutorial available that only takes a few minutes to review. We highly suggest you take 5 minutes and read up on what you can do with this new soaring forecast tool. Check it out here
Perhaps the best feature of this tool is the ability to set a start and end time for a route. This feature utilizes fairly complex algorithms to compute a realistic lift profile across time over a route. For now, time is assumed to be constant across the route, but you can instantly get an idea of how the day evolves along a path. This feature is relatively untapped right now and can be expanded on tremendously later. For now, we need to start collecting flights and performing detailed analysis to the 90m resolution. We hope to be able to quantify how well a flight matched the forecast for any given flight.
More to come this spring as these new and exciting tools start to evolve...