This year's annual American Meteorological Society meeting, was held January 7-11 in Austin, Texas. We were happy to see many of the Unidata community members participating in the meeting at our booth in the exhibit hall, and to meet so many prospective community members at the AMS Student Conference.
With so much going on at the conference, we can't cover everything here. Instead, we present some highlights as recalled by UPC staff members who attended.
17th Student Conference
The AMS Student Conference had 684 attendees this year. As in recent years, Unidata had a table set up for the Student Conference Career Fair, held Saturday and Sunday evenings before the main conference exhibition hall opened. Unidata's table attracted many visitors, with students interested in data and software available from Unidata as well as Unidata's Summer Internship program . We were fortunate to have two of our 2017 summer interns, Matthew Wilson and Tyler Wixtrom, on hand to talk with students and describe their experiences working at Unidata.
During the Student Conference itself, Unidata developer Michael James volunteered his time reviewing resumes and serving as an academic/research sector advisor. “I spent one-on-one time with students entering the job market, providing feedback on content and structure of their resumes, as well as general information about the hiring process,” he says.
MetPy Gaining Traction
Unidata's MetPy project was a very visible part of the Eighth Symposium on Advances in Modeling and Analysis Using Python. The fun began on Sunday, with a day-long Short Course titled “Python for Dynamical Meteorology Using MetPy”. MetPy developer Ryan May said that short course was very well attended, with 16 participants across all sectors, including 10 from Unidata's core university community. “Feedback from the participants was very positive,” says May, adding “we look forward to trying to do this more in the future.”
UPC Developers presented several talks and posters touching on MetPy and the related Siphon project. But Unidata community members were also busy discussing their own use of MetPy and learning more about the project. “I was amazed at the amount of interest and support from the community for Unidata’s Python efforts,” says Unidata developer John Leeman. “It was great to get a chance to interact with our users and learn what they would like to see in the future, and to learn about the successes to date.”
The MetPy developers also spent a significant amount of time at Unidata's booth in the exhibit hall, demonstrating MetPy and responding to questions by giving short tutorials on the use of Python in the atmospheric sciences. These impromptu teaching sessions proved quite popular, with numerous students and others stopping to listen in.
AWIPS Settles In
Unidata has been involved in community-focused development of the National Weather Service (NWS) Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS) for nearly a decade. Although the system was designed for use at NWS Weather Forecast Offices and National Centers, Unidata has worked dilligently to create a configuration that is tuned to the needs of university educators and researchers. These efforts have paid off as universities around the Unites States have turned to Unidata to get access to — and technical support for — this modified version of the software. To make using AWIPS even easier for the university community, Unidata also created a cloud-based Environmental Data Exchange (EDEX) server running in the NSF XSEDE/Jetstream environment, eliminating the need for some schools to configure and run an EDEX server locally.
Unidata's activities in the AWIPS realm garnered the program a seat at the table when NWS convened a panel discussion on collaborative development within the AWIPS Program. Unidata AWIPS developer Michael James described Unidata's role in the AWIPS development community and gave feedback on how the Unidata community's needs differ from operational needs.
Unidata's Integrated Data Viewer (IDV) was also much in evidence at the conference. Unidata IDV developer Yuan Ho gave an update on new 2D/3D grid trajectories and volume trajectories displays in the visualization and analysis package. As part of the Symposium on Advances in Modeling and Analysis Using Python, community member Professor Brian Mapes of the University of Miami described work on a collaboration with Unidata that blends Python, Jupyter notebook technologies, and the IDV: DRILSDOWN.
Professor Gary Lackman of North Carolina State University's book Midlatitude Synoptic Meteorology now has an associated lab manual featuring exercises built around the IDV. Lackmann and collaborators Kevin Tyle of the University at Albany/SUNY and Brian Mapes of the Univeristy of Miami described their approach to creating the laboratory activities, using the IDV to illustrate physical and dynamical processes in the atmosphere.
More Unidata Projects
The poster sessions were another good place to catch up with various Unidata projects. Wandering the poster hall, you could have run into:
- Developer Sean Arms discussing his work on the Rosetta project.
- Developer Ward Fisher talking about the CloudStream technology.
- Developer Julien Chastang describing the Unidata Science Gateway and the use of Jupyter notebooks in NSF's XSEDE/Jetstream cloud.
- Developers Ryan May and John Leeman, along with 2017 summer interns Tyler Wixtrom and Matthew Wilson presenting a variety of MetPy features.
NOAA Big Data Project
Unidata Program Director Mohan Ramamurthy has long been involved with NOAA's Big Data Project (BDP), which aims to make NOAA data more easily available through partnerships with commercial and non-commercial cloud service providers. At this year's AMS meeting, Ramamurthy facilitated a Town Hall session to provide the community with an update on the BDP, bringing together panelists from NOAA, the University of Chicago Center for Data Intensive Science, and Amazon Web Services to discuss the state of the project. “It was good to hear from NOAA and the project collaborators, but also encouraging to hear the perspectives of the community members who attended,” he says.
In addition to describing the current state of the project from the agency's perspective, Chief Data Officer Ed Kearns indicated that NOAA hopes to extend the Big Data Project's Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) with the participating cloud service providers, keeping the BDP experiment going for another year.
Visiting with Community
All in all, the AMS annual meeting provides an excellent opportunity for those of us who work for the Unidata community at the Program Center to catch up with community members, learn what you're doing, and get feedback about what we're doing. But don't feel like you need to wait until we show up in person at a conference or meeting to ask us questions — get in touch any time by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll do our best to get you the information, data, or software you need.