Manhattan Wind Visualization


Alan Huber spent an entire career with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency studying how pollutants disperse on the wind through urban environments, an important question when considering urban air quality and how particulates (pollens, dust, pollutants, etc.) disperse. Airflow is complicated by urban geography; narrow streets lined with skyscrapers and smaller buildings prevent air currents from moving uniformly across the cityscape and cause updrafts and downdrafts.

Now an adjunct faculty member with the UNC Chapel Hill Institute for the Environment at UNC Chapel Hill, Huber continued his research with help from RENCI visualization specialists and the computing power of UNC’s Topsail, a 520-node (4,160 processor) supercomputing cluster with a peak performance of nearly 29 teraflop/s.

Simulations of such detailed movement of particles through real environments requires computational fluid dynamics, numerical methods and algorithms that solve and analyze problems involving flows of fluids and gases over complex surfaces. After simulating the data, Huber worked with RENCI to couple the output via high-speed networks to a state-of-the-art 4K resolution stereoscopic 3-dimensional environment at RENCI. This allows him to navigate through thousands of gigabytes of data in real-time interactive stereoscopic 3D at a native resolution over 4 times that of HDTV.

Project Team

David Borland


Alan Huber, Institute for the Environment, UNC Chapel Hill