International Activities and Collaborations

Status Report: March 2012 - September 2012

Tom Yoksas

Strategic Focus Areas

The Group Name group's work supports the following Unidata funding proposal focus areas:

  1. Develop and provide open-source tools for effective use of geoscience data
    The majority of tools downloadable from Unidata are available free-of-charge to everyone (the exception being McIDAS-X).
  2. Provide cyberinfrastructure leadership in data discovery, access, and use
    Activities of the Unidata Program Center are routinely provided to the worldwide atmospheric science community. Strategic partnerships with leading organizations in other countries minimize the impact on UPC staff.
  3. Build, support, and advocate for the diverse geoscience community
    By informing the international atmospheric science community of the products, data and services available in the Unidata Program, an extended community has been enabled.
    Non-U.S. users of products available from Unidata reflect, in a number of cases, minority constituencies in the U.S. atmospheric science community.

International Activities Since the Last Status Report

Unidata's Africa-related international outreach activities have largely focused on its role in the UCAR Africa Initiative (AI) which will soon enter its second (and final) no-cost extension of is award). The following are some highlights of this activity:

  • The IDV is being used to generate displays of forecast relative humidity that is created using TIGGE ensemble data from ECMWF (via the NCAR/CISL TIGGE repository). The IDV displays include:


    • Areal distribution of the 50% quantile for RH (which means that each point in the RH field has a 50% probability of being that value or less).

      These products are stored as animated GIFs and individual frames of the animated GIFs and made available through RAMADDA on motherlode:


      Motherlode Data Server

      RAMADDA Data Repository

          Projects -> Africa Initiative -> Data -> Weather Forecast

            -> Areal Coverage

            -> Timeseries


    • probe timeseries plots of QC25, QC50, and QC75 fields for districts (a district is a subdivision of a region which is like a U.S. state) in a select set of countries (Benin, Cote D'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Niger, Nigeria, Tchad, and Togo) that are located in the meningitis belt (which is roughly the Sahel) in Africa.


      The locations for the probe time series plots are determined by meningitis cases that are reported by the national health service of each country.


      Each Thursday through the end of June, UCAR AI team members (Tom Hopson NCAR/RAL, Raj Pandya UCAR/Spark, and/or Mukul Tewari NCAR/RAL) participated in a conference call with WHO, U Lancaster, and African nation stake holders to discuss the forecast of meningitis cases for the upcoming 1-4 weeks (focusing on the next and second weeks).


  • The next stage of AI work in Unidata includes automating the generation of displays upon receipt of a new forecast file produced in RAL (by Tom Hopson).


    There are a number of challenges that had to be overcome to automate the product generation process:


    • The programmatic use of the IDV


      Yuan has been very helpful in making changes/additions to the IDV to enable this. Don Murray has also been contributing expertise to help Yuan in his efforts.


    • Use of RAMADDA to serve display products to the African Decision Information System (ADIS) interface that Arnaud Dumont (NCAR/RAL) created for the project.


      Jeff McWhirter (UNAVCO) has readily implemented enhancements to RAMADDA for this task.


    • Scraping human-generated documents to get the list of districts for which probe time series plots should be generated.


      The issue is that the sort of information being made available to folks reading MS excel spreadsheets or MS word documents needs to be turned into machine-readable documents that can be used in the product generation workflow.


  • The next step in the AI effort will be the transfer of technologys used in the various facets of RH forecasts to the African Centre of Meteorological Application for Development (ACMAD) which is located in Niamey, Niger.


    At some point in the not too distant future (probably January or February, 2013), a small number of the UCAR AI participants (e.g., Tom Hopson, Arnaud Dumont (NCAR/RAL), Raj Pandya (UCAR/SPARC) and Tom Yoksas) will need to travel to ACMAD to review their current computing and network capabilities and begin setting up needed systems.


Other activities of note:

  • Two Unidata personnel (Yuan Ho and Tom Yoksas) travelled to Chengdu, China in June to train Chinese Meteorological Agency (CMA) personnel in the use of the LDM, IDV and RAMADDA. The 10 day trip, which was fully funded by the CMA, has resulted in closer ties between China CMA offices and Unidata. More information on this activity can be found in the IDV status report.
  • Data from UCAR GOES East/West/South ingest systems continue to be routinely accessed by international users in North, Central and South America using McIDAS-X, IDV, and McIDAS-V.
  • Use of Unidata tools, especially netCDF and the IDV, continues to grow internationally.
  • IDD-Brazil continues to grow in Africa.