Suncurves started out as a pet project born out of a morning coffee conversation at StormGeo, a weather company where we, Erik Kolstad and Paul Skeie have our day jobs. We both have PhDs in Meteorology and our daily activities include data analysis, numerical weather prediction and programming as well as sharing lousy jokes.
Sunlight in Bergen is a rather scarce commodity, the city is located in the middle of the humid westerlies of the north Atlantic, bringing lots of clouds and rain. Sun conditions in some areas however, are less favourable than in others due to terrain shading. Bergen, the city of the seven mountains, offers great recreational opportunities close to the city, but the mountains also block the sun at certain sun angles. When houses are advertised for sale in Bergen, some houses are claimed as having "good sun conditions", but this term is rather vague, and it doesn't even begin to cover all the aspects of sun conditions that might interest a potential buyer of a property. Questions that came up during our lunch conversation was:
- Is there a common understanding of what "good sun conditions" means?
- Does it boil down to late sunset in midsummer? If so, the conditions are dictated by the presence or absence of elevated terrain to the west of the property.
- How about winter sun? If that is important, the conditions are controlled by elevated terrain to the south (or north in the southern hemisphere) of the property.
- Wouldn't it be fun to solve this problem in a general way, at any site globally?
- How should we go about solving this problem?
Fast forward six months and countless hours spent on programming, optimizing, and validating has led to the current version of our website. Computations that started out taking minutes now take less than half a second. We are pretty pleased with what we have accomplished so far, but we still have many plans for new products and solutions. Most importantly, we want to keep on having fun.