The 2012 Unidata Users Workshop took place July 9-13 at NCAR's Mesa Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado. The workshop's theme — Navigating Earth System Science Data — encompassed topics that drew speakers and participants from across the atmospheric and other geosciences communities.
Twenty-six presenters from the Unidata community shared their insights on doing science in an environment of expanding data availability with the nearly 100 workshop attendees. The talks ranged from high-level descriptions of big initiatives like the National Science Foundation's Earth Cube, Global modeling at NOAA, and the joint NOAA-NASA GOES-R satellite program to hands-on demonstrations of data analysis tools including python, GrADS, Unidata's Integrated Data Viewer, and the still-in-development AWIPS-II system.
A Mix of Presentations
The workshop venue — a comfortable auditorium at the I. M. Pei-designed Mesa Lab — was more conducive to lecture-style talks than interactive computing tutorials, but many presenters encouraged the audience to follow along on their own laptops. Perhaps unsurprisingly, workshop attendees were especially excited by these hands-on demonstration sessions. As one attendee noted of speaker Kevin Tyle's talk on dealing with large datasets, "It was a very useful presentation and the hands on examples using the IDV and RAMADDA search were especially enlightening."
Topics that strayed from the home turf of the (mostly) atmospheric scientists present were also appreciated. Brent Gordon, of the Space Weather Prediction Center gave a lively talk titled "Space Weather and its Merging with the Terrestrial Weather Institutions and their Capabilities" that elicited this comment: "I found the material very interesting and have always been interested in solar activity and its impacts on Earth. I learned a lot, but I don't know how I will apply it to my field. It was still a great presentation."
Ten student attendees (along with one professor and several Unidata Program Center developers) made presentations during the workshop poster session. The session was enthusiastically attended despite a slightly cramped location. As one poster session attendee commented, "I really enjoyed hearing about different students' research and each student was great at explaining their project and answering questions."
Workshop Materials Online
Workshop presenters used Unidata's RAMADDA site to organize their presentation materials and information they wished to share with the audience. You can view the workshop materials whether you attended the workshop or not — by pointing your browser to the Workshop RAMADDA site.
Additional photographs from the workshop are also posted on the Workshop RAMADDA site's Pictures page.
For more general information about the workshop, including the schedule and list of presenters, browse to the Workshop web page itself.
Unidata Virtual Appliance
Workshop attendees received a copy of a Unidata Virtual Appliance for evaluation purposes. The Unidata Virtual Appliance is a pre-configured Linux system with Unidata's software packages pre-installed, ready to run in a virtualization environment such as VirtualBox or VMware. The Unidata Program Center is evaluating whether providing Unidata software packages in this format will make it easier for sites with limited computing or system administration resources to take advantage of packages like the Local Data Manager, THREDDS Data Server, etc. We hope that workshop attendees will provide feedback about the value of this idea.
About the Users Workshops
Unidata Users Workshops are held every three years, bringing members of the Unidata community together to share ideas about teaching and doing science. Past workshops have focused on using operational and experimental observations; using models as educational tools; and using environmental data for research, education, and decision making. The workshops are organized by the Unidata Users committee and Unidata Program Center staff, and are supported by the National Science Foundation.