Puffin Feeder





The Puffin Feeder is our website that provides a simple interface to access near-realtime imagery products. These products may be directly captured or generated based on other data feeds and are available through the website and as RSS (rich site summary) feeds.

Puffin Feeder users can view the latest imagery/animations on the website or by subscribing using an RSS reader. Embedding feeds or the most current image or animation into a website is supported.

An effort was made to make the feeder friendly for mobile and tablet platform users.  While a bit awkward trying to show large images on phone devices the Puffin Feeder website works great on 7'' or greater tablets.


The Puffin Feeder website was initially conceived to provide a platform for serving the UAF-GI Sea Ice group’s Hajo Eicken and Andy Mahoney’s Barrow web cam and radar imagery animations. The Barrow webcam and radar captures an image every 5 minutes, Hajo and Andy needed the imagery to not only be archived in an NSF approved data archive but also to have the latest images turned into animations and made available on their project website http://seaice.alaska.edu/gi/observatories.

GINA then partnered with IARC data archive (IDA), approved by the NSF, to automate the archival of all received and derived products (animations). IceMonkey, similar to RelayMonkey, was created to transfer data for ingestion and archival before sending the data streams to processing systems at GINA for decoding (radar data), ingestion (webcams and derived radar images) and then animation.

This infrastructure to collect, archive, process, and distribute feeds for the Barrow webcam and radar soon became useful for other GINA data serving needs.

In April 2012 GINA upgraded our direct broadcast reception station to support the Suomi NPP satellite with the VIIRS sensor. Puffin Feeder became the target platform for making the near-realtime data feeds of SNPP from GINA available in a Desktop GIS friendly format. Alaskan Albers GeoTIFFs clipped to Alaska landmask.

Data available from Feeder

Current status and the future

At the end of 2012, the Barrow webcam feed had 55,762 images, dating back to 2012/04/25 (8 months) and the Barrow radar feed had 45,691 images, dating back to 2012/05/15 (7 months) and the web site served 2GB of data each day.

To support the user adoption of the data feeds GINA improved the backend storage and hosting environment to allow for better performance and load balancing. Details can be found at the http://uafgina.tumblr.com/post/37724570726/puffin-feeder-updates-if-you-have-noticed-some

The next steps are to expand the type of data sets available to be hosted to include WMS and Google Earth KML. This would provide alternative methods for Desktop GIS and Google Earth users to access the spatial imagery on Feeder.

Magic Sauce

Some of the tools being used in the background that make the Puffin Feeder go:  Ruby on Rails, Nginx, Unicorn, Dragonfly, Redis, Sidekiq, Partners Data fiber-channel storage, CentOS and KVM Virtual Machines, Github, Pivotal Tracker


Outage notices are posted on the @uafgina twitter feed.   If you notice an issue with a feed, have a question, or want to compliment Will (the primary developer) you can use our contact us page to submit a ticket.