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New versions of Sunrise, Turbulence and more

31 May 2023

tags: sunrise - turbulence - offshoremaps - weathericon - gribfiles - tidalwater

While it’s almost been six months since the last update, we have been quite busy and have several important announcements to make before the summer break.

Sunrise 3.0

The venerable Sunrise version 2.0, which is our second most popular product, is being retired. Consisting of 100K lines of Fortran code, it has become impossible to maintain after the main developer left us, and is being replaced with a much smaller Python library which uses GeoJSON as its standard output format instead of XML. You can find the source code on Github:

The full astro application has a whole host of features which was never used by the API, including a GUI planetarium where you can see planetary orbits in real time. If you are interested in astronomy we urge you to check out this project, wishing it will have a long life outside of MET:

Version 3.0, which has been in beta for many months is expected to be officially launched on 15 June, at which time version 2.0 will be deprecated. We plan to support the old version until 31 August, so you should have plenty of time to port your client application to the new JSON format. (Note also that the new version is much stricter with regards to identification in the User-Agent header.)

New aviation products

On 8 June we will be launching a new version of the Turbulence map product, using Machine Learning and a much higher update rate (every 3 hours for 18 hours ahead, instead of only every 12 hours). The current version (1.1) will be terminated on 10 July 2023.

At the same time we will also be launching a new product for offshore helicopter flight maps. This was previously available under the Routemaps product, but now has several more areas and a higher update frequency:

Changes to marine products

Due to popular demand, we will soon be deploying a new marine simulation model (WaveWatch) in Gribfiles which follows the meteorological convention of the values indicating where the waves are coming from (instead of going to as in the current version). This means you finally will be able to input the GRIB files into your marine chart plotter and see the waves going the right way! There is no change in the API interface so file downloads will work as before, but check the Changelog to see when the new files are being deployed.

We have also recently added three new harbours to the Tidalwater product:

  • Bruravik (BRJ)
  • Leirvik (LEH)
  • Sirevåg (SIE)

Removal of the WeatherIcon service

Whereas in older versions we had a functional API, the current version of WeatherIcon is only indended as a one-time download of an archive of icon files. Still, many users are hotlinking the icons and downloading the static file “legend” for every request, causing a lot of unnecessary traffic. As a consequence we will be removing the weather icons from the API, moving it instead to the documentation and only allowing the icons to be downloaded offline. This is planned to terminate on 31 August.

Odds and ends

We are rolling out a new field updated in the Available JSON feed. By comparing this timestamp with your previous downloads you can easily check if there’s any new files to be downloaded without having to make separate requests for each. This feature is gradually being ported to each API product separately.

We are also working on adding solar influx to the global Locationforecast “complete” JSON output. This has been a much requested feature and is of special importance to the solar industry. Delivery has been delayed but expect to see it late this year. You can already find it in the Nordic model NetCDF files as integral_of_surface_downwelling_shortwave_flux_in_air_wrt_time:

Finally, as some of you may have noticed we have redesigned both the API and documentation web pages, with a responsive design that finally works on mobile devices and is WCAG compliant. Please let us know if you have any comments or suggestions as we are always trying to improve the usability of the API.

Have a great summer (or winter, if you’re in that part of the globe)!

—Geir Aalberg