Viewing Web Mapping Service (WMS) Operational Product Images in IDV &
exercise covers the Web Mapping Service resource sites and how to view
their data with 2 important browsers.
Preliminary Reading (in
OceanTeacher, unless otherwise indicated):
Mapping Service (WMS) - "The OpenGIS« Web Map Service Interface
Standard (WMS) provides a simple HTTP interface for requesting
geo-registered map images from one or more distributed geospatial
databases. A WMS request defines the geographic layer(s) and area of
interest to be processed. The response to the request is one or more
geo-registered map images (returned as JPEG, PNG, etc) that can be
displayed in a browser application." [From the
"The maps returned by a WMS service are images only. They
do not contain actual data." [ESRI website]
relatively new OGC services that can be applied to the problems of
presenting data (WMS, WFS, WCS, etc) are wonderful tools. But the ultimate users don't see everything going on
behind the curtain. I hope this exercise will reveal some of these
- As stated above, WMS only delivers images of data, not data. You
can look, but -- essentially -- you can't touch.
- Other OGC services can deliver data:
- Web Feature Service (WFS) optionally delivers the actual vector data
(points, lines, polygons, etc.)
- Web Coverage Service (WCS) optionally delivers grids
- "Optionally" means it's technically feasibly, but possibly not
enabled by the publisher
- WMS and the other services are fundamental parts of online,
dynamic ATLASES. You cannot see this, due to the finely written
shells around the basic OGC services.
- All WMS work through browsers, not stand-alone.
Good browsers include IDV and Google Earth and several ESRI programs.
- WMS server locations, i.e. the URLs, are often incomplete.
Sometimes they lack the final part of the complete URL string:
?service=wms&request=getcapabilities. This is the minimal
termination, but there are additional optional arguments.
- Even when successfully visualized, WMS images must be "refreshed"
every time there is a change in physical size or placement. So don't
expect the smooth globe spinning in Google Earth.
- About half the WMS services cited are not in operation, or they
require additional URL arguments that you don't know and probably can't
|2. Run IDV.
|3. If you are not looking at
your area of interest, then select PROJECTIONS > PREDEFINED > LIBERIA (for
NOTE: This is needed at the beginning to reduce the size
of the first requested image. A global high-resolution SST image could
take all day, so don't omit this step.
|4. Now you see your area.
WMS image requests will automatically be limited to this area.
5. In IDV select DATA CHOOSERS > CATALOGS and insert
the WMS URL for ETOPO1 from the MDL WMS list
below (marked in red).
It' not really an "operational" product, but it's good looking and well
illustrates the method.
|6. Select SHADED RELIEF and
click on ADD SOURCE.
|7. Now the WMS CONTROL
appears, which means that IDV is ready to make and send a formatted request
to the WMS server:
- Specific layer (based on choice in above Panel)
- Specific area (based on PROJECTION)
- Image size (based on current IDV setup)
- Format (usually gif)
Click on CREATE DISPLAY to send the message.
|8. The image is sent back
from the WMS server and displayed in IDV. Notice how the shading makes
it easy to interpret.
9. You can save this with FILE > SAVE AS and navigate to PRODUCTS >
IDV > XIDV and use the name relief_image_liberia_etopo1_ngdc_wms.xidv
|10. Also, if you just want
to save the above image, then select MAP > VIEW > CAPTURE > IMAGE.
|11. Now we'll
try some of the WMS servers in the MyOcean WMS
12. Using the same steps you see above, here we're viewing the
contents of the
GLOBAL Ocean, Ocean Optics Products (daily observation) item in
the list (marked in red).
In this case, you can expend the menu below the parameter level, to find
this list. Each item is a different color palette. You can
select one, as I have done here.
Then click ADD SOURCE.
Generally, I can't find any difference between the palettes, and usually
just take the default by not making any palette choice. I'm not sure
that the palettes have been applied an many cases.
|13. And here is the image
returned by the WMS. There isn't much to see, except a band of
slightly higher values along the coast. There is a LEGEND, but it's
hard to see.
|14. Click on the LEGEND to
enlarge it. Now you can see that the "remote sensing reflectance" is
about 2500. I'll leave the units and definitions to you.
higher values represent particle-filled waters, due to light-scattering,
which seems reasonable from this figure.
|15. And just for your
interest, here's the same dataset, viewed with WORLD projection.
You can see the large central-ocean oligotrophic areas, and the coastal area
with higher values.
16. This WMS from the MyOcean list was next explored:
GLOBAL Ocean OSTIA Sea Surface Temperature and Sea Ice Analysis (marked
|No result on
20130806-7, regional or global. Returns a LEGEND but no SST map.
17. And then this WMS from the MyOcean list was explored:
GLOBAL Ocean Biogeochemistry Analysis >Nitrate (marked
The use of a global
palette, the usual practice with WMS products, results in a very
indistinct image for Liberia. This is a universal problem with
WMSs and atlases in general, the difficult balancing act between
large-scale and small-scale areas, and the choice of palettes.
|18. Here is the global image
for nitrate, where the palette looks perfectly good due to the wide range of
values actually encountered.
|19. But if you expand the
LEGEND for the nitrate, you get this odd figure, not the expected
It's Munch's "The Scream" in GeoTIF unsuccessfully
displayed by a standard TIF viewer. This very small joke may originate
in the WMS or in IDV.
|20. Now we're
going on to see how to view WMS image in Google Earth (GE)
|21. Run GE.
|22. We're going
to add this item from the MDL WMS list (marked
|23. Select ADD > IMAGE
|24. Enter a NAME to identify
the overlay. Then click on REFRESH.
NOTE: The LINK space is not where you
put the URL for the WMS site. Google Earth will create a much longer,
complex URL for the same site, using your "WMS Parameters". You can
see the final long URL below in Panel xx.
|25. On this tab you can make
settings to control how often GE checks back to the WMS for updates.
But we want only to select WMS PARAMETERS.
|26. This is the
screen to select the map objects from the WMS. First we need to add in
the new WMS. Select ADD.
|27. Into this
small screen insert the URL for the JCOMMOPS SOOP site. Then click OK.
|28. Now GE
interrogates the WMS and gets a list of the objects that can be mapped.
Examine it carefully.
|29. Select the
items you want to map, and move them to the right side with ADD->.
Then click OK.
|30. And here the objects
appear on the GE map. You can explore all the visualization options in
GE, including turning ON or OFF different choices from source WMS. All
this fun is up to you.
|31. For your
information, if you watched the contents of the LINK space in Panel 24
above, GE automatically filled it with items that reflected your choices.
Here the "link" is broken into parts so you can see how it is structured:
|32. The above
panels illustrate only the main steps in visualizing images from WMS
resource. Obviously there are hundreds of details you can explore and
refine on your own. Please inform this author of newer and better
things you discover.
One topic not covered above is the actual dates
associated with individual analyses. WMS is an ideal tool for display
of climatological products, where temporal concerns can easily be addressed
in the data object name, e.g. Average SST for All January Data. But
automation of near-real-time products has left dates somewhat in the dust.
If WMS will continue to be popular, then the end user's control (or at least
knowledge) of specific dates must be augmented.