This year's annual American Meteorological Society meeting in Atlanta, Georgia hosted nearly 3500 attendees, who fortuitously missed the serious winter storms that occurred shortly before and after the conference. 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.
13th Student Conference
The 13th AMS Student Conference had 836 attendees — a new record and almost 200 more than last 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 opened on Monday. Conversation at Unidata's table was lively, with students interested in data and software available from Unidata as well as Unidata's Summer Internship program. (If you're interested, there is still time to apply.)
IDV Short Course
Unidata hosted its first AMS Short Course at this year's meeting. The Short Course, titled “Integrating WRF and Other Model Output with Remote and In-situ Observational Datasets using Unidata's Integrated Data Viewer (IDV),” was held on Sunday before the main conference began and attracted 24 attendees. The focus of the course was on integrating model output with various observational datasets using the IDV, in an effort to break down barriers between the modeling and observational communities.
Unidata hosted the Short Course in association with Millersville Univeristy; staff from Millersville presented a section on the Geosciences Probe of Discovery (GEOpod).
Attendees came from universities, government agencies, and the private sector; many attendees came from outside the U.S. “Since our core community is inside the United States, we're very accustomed to hearing from them,” says IDV developer Julien Chastang. “It was interesting — and gratifying — to meet and talk with so many people from outside the U.S. about the IDV.”
Continued AWIPS II Interest
Although no official release of the next-generation National Weather Service's Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS II) is publicly available, interest remains strong in both Unidata's core academic community and the wider Weather Enterprise community that includes commercial enterprises hoping to use the new system. (A preliminary version of AWIPS II is available from the National Weather Service, but this is not the version that Unidata will support for use in the academic community. Academic users interested in taking part in Unidata's beta-test program should read this posting.)
Python Marches On
This year's meeting hosted the 4th Symposium on Advances in Modeling and Analysis Using Python, demonstrating that the use of Python in the atmospheric sciences continues to grow rapidly. UPC developer Ryan May found there were many interesting talks, but that the most compelling events were the town hall meetings on “Building the AOS Python Community” and “Learning and Teaching Python.”
“The takeaways from these two discussion sessions are that: the community is finding that Python works well to introduce programming concepts to students, with a focus on meteorological applications; there is a definite need to develop community software libraries so that it becomes easier to utilize Python for meteorology,” says Ryan. “We will continue to watch these interesting developments and look at ways that we can support the community's interest in Python.”
An Appropriate Conference Theme
While evidence of the snow storm that closed down the city of Atlanta just days before the conference began was mostly gone, the fact of the recent storm made the conference theme — “Extreme Weather: Climate and the Built Environment” — seem especially appropriate. Unidata Director Mohan Ramamurthy noted that numerous presentations and informal conversations revolved around progress made and work still to be done in creating a weather ready nation.
NOAA began promoting the weather ready nation concept after a 2011 tornado in Joplin, Missouri killed 158 people and injured more than a thousand others. “The winter storm in Atlanta showed that even when the forecasts are quite accurate, society doesn't always make full use of the information,” says Ramamurthy. “We need to find better ways to get the right information to the right people so society can prepare effectively and respond quickly.”
Other Unidata Presentations
Unidata Program Center staff also participated in several papers presented at the conference:
- Tom Yoksas contributed to More effective meningitis vaccination campaigns using weather information over Africa
- Sean Arms, Julien Chastang, and Yuan Ho contributed to Martin Baxter's The Meteorology and Impacts of Superstorm Sandy: Creation of an Educational Case Study Using IDV and RAMADDA
- Michael James provide the Unidata Program Center AWIPS II Status Update
- Mohan Ramamurthy spoke on Unidata's vision for Transforming Geoscience by moving data services and software to the Cloud
- John Caron co-authored the poster BUFR2NetCDF – Converting Observational Data to a Self Describing Archive Format
- Sean Arms presented Rosetta - Unidata's Web-based Data Translation Tool: Progress and Future Plans, co-authored with Jennifer Oxelson, Mohan Ramamurthy, and Jeff Weber
- Mohan Ramamurthy co-authored Towards a Community Resource for High-Volume Model Data Processing Near NCEP