Unidata Users Committee Meeting Summary

13-14 March 2003

Boulder, Colorado



UPC Staff:

Rich Clark, Millersville Univ, Chair

Steve Chiswell

Bill Fingerhut, Lyndon State College

Sherri Corpuz

Charles Graves, St Louis Univ

Ethan Davis

Anton Kruger, Univ of Iowa

Ben Domenico

Mark Laufersweiler, Univ of Oklahoma

Emily Doremire

Michael Morgan, Univ of Wisc-Madison

Steve Emmerson

Tony Rockwood, Metropolitan State

Joanne Graham

James Steenburgh, Univ of Utah (not attending)

Jo Hansen

Donna Tucker, Univ of Kansas

Yuan Ho


Robb Kambic

Ex-Officio Members:

Jeff McWhirter

Charles Murphy, Kean Univ

Linda Miller

Tom Whittaker, Univ of Wis-Madison, ATAC Rep

Don Murray


Mohan Ramamurthy


Russ Rew


Jeff Weber


Stu Wier


Anne Wilson


Tom Yoksas

Administrative Items

  • Chuck Graves, St. Louis Univ, joined the Users Committee for his first meeting.
  • The next scheduled Users Committee meeting is proposed for 2-3 October 2003.
  • There will be a one-day meeting on 20 June 2003 to prepare for the Summer 2003 Workshop, scheduled for 22-27 June.
  • Congratulations to Tom Whittaker, this year's recipient of the Russell B. DeSouza Award.
  • Review of the Action Items from 24-25 October 2002 meeting.
  • Discussion of Action 4- it was decided that this action would be visited at a later time.
    • Discussion among those assigned this task has led to the recommendation of an IDV Steering Committee. The details of the structure andmakeup of this committee are still being worked out. An email from Tom Whittaker on this issue was distributed to the committee member
  • In response to Action 5 regarding a special session at the 2004 AMS-IIPS meeting focusing on IDV applications and use, Linda Miller suggested an evening session or a session, prior to the formal AMS meeting. With general agreement among the committee, Unidata will investigate options.
  • Responding to Action 7 pertaining to GIS participation at the workshop, Ben Domenico recommended ESRI presence at the workshop.
  • No response has been received regarding the technical requirements for Baron's offer to provide radar data from their commercial radars, per Action 9.
  • Discussion about Resolution 2 (CRAFT) and Level II data access and distribution revealed that the volume of data should not be a problem for sites with the new LDM version 6, which has a factor of 8.4 in throughput from the LDM5. It was announced at the AMS Annual meeting in February that the NWS will distribute Level II NEXRAD data within six months, using LDM technology, over the Internet.
  • All other Actions are in the process of being implemented or have been satisfied.

Policy Committee Report - Charlie Murphy

  • The number of members of the Policy Committee was addressed. The PolComm has been operating at a limited capacity for some time, and action will be taken to recruit new members.
  • The "pay-per-byte" issue was discussed by Cliff Jacobs at the NSF level. Though the NSF does not agree with the pay-per-byte approach, they will not be taking action with institutions that choose to implement it.

Action 1: A community Email and Web Portal query from the Users Committee will be created by Charlie Murphy, Policy Committee Liaison and Rich Clark, Users Committee Chair, regarding the following issues:

    • impact of budget cuts at univesity institutions
    • technical support (IT) impact
    • Pay-per-byte
    • are there implications to Unidata?
  • The Policy Committee was tasked with writing a letter to the President of Cornell University about the importance of Cornell's participation in the community and the important role they have played in the IDD.
  • Cliff Jacobs suggested that the Policy Committee review the NRC report on Private Sector Meteorology - "Fair Weather: Effective Partnerships in Weather and Climate Services 2003" and consider this for discussion at a future meeting. Rick Anthes was on the panel that produced the report, and perhaps he could join the Committee for the discussion.
  • Ben Watkins, NOAA/NCDC, discussed:
    • NOMADS did not get 2003 funding, but they are still working to improve data access
    • NOMADS servers working with THREDDS and OPeNDAP
    • NEXRAD-Level II data now available from 61 sites on line
    • Working toward making all sites available on line-total sites include 120 NWS, 12 FAA and 26 DOD sites
    • CLASS (Comprehensive Large Array-data Stewardship System) is a project to provide on-line Web center for large archive data sets (satellite, NPOES, EOS, radar, in situ, etc)
  • Cliff Jacobs provided an overview of the NSF budgets in his NSF report. Some highlights include:
    • FY2003 appropriation total - $5.344 billion (request was 5.036)
    • 11.6% increase, but there is a 0.65% across the board decrease so the actual increase is about 11%
    • Geosciences +13% (609-689 M)
    • Geosciences is up 40% since 2000
  • Ben Domencio provided a THREDDS report
  • Linda Miller provided a briefing on the NWS Level II WSR-88D data distribution.

Discussion: Issue of visualization of the data and training was discussed. Tim Spangler noted that radar (and Level II data) could be the topic of COMET's University Faculty workshop in 2004. The volume of the Level II data was discussed, but Unidata technical staff members are confident that the new version of LDM 6 can handle the data volume.  NLDM continues to be tested in parallel with the LDM 6.

  • Tim Killeen, NCAR Director, met with the Policy Committee to provide a summary of NCAR activities and to discuss UCAR-NCAR collaborations, citing possible areas for collaboration in the areas of:
    • network access via the GRID
    • Unidata as a portal for experimental field campaigns
    • visualizations, data mining
    • integrating education and research
    • data archives

Director's Report - Mohan Ramamurthy

  • There are now 25 Unidata staff members.
  • A monthly seminar series is now being conducted. Some of these presentations are UCAR-wide, whereas others are conducted as Unidata seminars.
  • Unidata had a booth presence at the AGU and several staff members provided presentations at the AMS Annual Meeting.
  • The Equipment Award program has been announced to the community. The awards will be made to institutions in the range of 5-25K. The total award fund amounts to $200K this year, due to not having the mechanisms in place for Unidata to administer the awards last year.
  • OPeNDAP-DODS is conducting a workshop, hosted by Unidata, on 19-21 March 2003.
  • Guy Almes, Chief Engineer of Internet2 spent a day discussing data distribution methods (LDM and NLDM) with Unidata staff. Almes is facilitating NWS distribution of the Level II WSR-88D data to the community. The LDM technology will be used in conjunction with Internet2 for data dissemination for the data.
  • Unidata has been working on seven proposals for funding.
  • proposal tracking system has been established
  • Future of the case study project is uncertain, due to lack of funding for the effort. Options are being explored.
    THREDDS has link to IDV and VGEE
  • LDEO (Benno Blumenthal's tools are operational on Motherlode
  • Tom Whittaker's applets available to access THREDDS server
  • International IDD/LDM in Brazil, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mexico, Germany, Spain, Canada
  • Refinements of LDM 5 to LDM 6, and the NLDM
  • GEMPAK 16x24 bit display is now available
  • there have been 250 unique downloads for the new GEMPAK version
  • Unidata is supporting Free BSD
  • NEXRAD composites (using Level III data) now available
  • McIDAS - 95 sites downloaded
  • IDV
    • now has a spinning globe feature
    • performance improvements have been integrated
    • VGEE is using IDV
    • Discussion of use of IDV with CCSM to help broaden reach to other communities
  • Solicitation of beta sites for the NLDM will be conducted this spring.
    • NLDM supports both push and pull-based technology
  • Unidata funding was depicted in "red", due primarily to non-core funded projects status


  • Anton Kruger visited University of Colorado hydrologists prior to the Users Committee meeting, and they were using the IDV
  • The committee continues to support the development of case studies, indicating the importance of the case studies for classroom and lab activities. (see Action 3 below)
  • The Internet2 community is interested in the NLDM and LDM6.
  • Based on discussions regarding "pay-per-byte," NLDM, LDM6, and developments at Berkley (application level multicast techniques), the following action item was developed:

Action 2: Unidata should start exploring technical solutions pertaining to improved methods of sharing the data load at IDD sites.

Action 3: Investigate the Warning Event Simulator (WES) case studies with COMET regarding the proprietary Informix database. Find out if the case studies will be available to the community and what equipment will be needed to run the case studies. Jeff Weber, Unidata will report at next meeting.

VGEE Presentation - Rajul Pandya

Raj provided a presentation of the Visual Geophysical Exploration Environment (VGEE) discussing the connection to IDV and THREDDS.

Action 4: Rajul Pandya will make the VGEE presentation from the Users Committee meeting available on Unidata's Web site.

Equipment Awards - Joanne Graham

Following a discussion about reviewer selection for the Equipment Awards, the following action item was developed:

Action 5: Reviewers for the Equipment awards will be selected from the Users Committee after all proposals have been submitted, to avoid recruiting representatives who are interested in submitting proposals.

Workshop Planning - All

Workshop Title: "Expanding Horizons Using Environmental Data for Education, Research and Decision Making."
Workshop logistics were reviewed.
Rich Clark created a schedule as discussions evolved.
  • Experts are being contacted to provide presentations in the areas of
    • GIS
    • model output
    • NSF program plans
    • policy
    • education and case studies

The following action items spawned from several hours of workshop discussion and planning activities.

Workshop Actions:

Action 1: Charlie Murphy and Bill Fingerhut will work together to provide an IDV lab presentation.

Action 2: Linda Miller will contact Olga Wilhelmi to ask her to provide a plenary presentation on GIS activities at UCAR and ESIG on Tuesday morning, along with participating on the Friday morning panel.

Action 3: Workshop Planning Committee who have been contacted for Labs (hands-on sessions) need to be contacted regarding the possibility of presenting two hands-on lab sessions, rather than one.

Action 4: Linda Miller will contact Ted Habermann, NGDC, about providing a presentation on “What is GIS?”

Action 5: Ben Domenico will contact Stefano Nativi about providing a case study on OpenGIS which includes the area of his research interest.

Action 6: Anton Kruger will contact Witek Krajewski regarding a presentation on hydrologic modeling and the use of GIS.

Action 7: Ben Domenico will provide a presentation on THREDDS on Tuesday morning, followed by Ted Habermann and Scott Shipley, if we can obtain agreement from all.

Action 8: Scribes need to be identified. A combination of Users Committee and student attendees will be considered to fill the role.

Action 9: Student participants should create a statement of interest for workshop participation. Tony Rockwood and Charlie Murphy will review student registration to determine possible scholarship awards.

Action 10: There will be a “meet the developers” session dedicated to enable participants to discuss various aspects of the applications pertaining to their education and research activities. This will include, GEMPAK, IDV, McIDAS, OPeNDAP (DODS), THREDDS, and software for GIS.

Action 11: A very brief exit survey will be required for the attendees.

Action 12: A title and one or two-sentence description of each presentation is required. This will be provided in a document for attendees to take home.

Action 13: The Panel Discussion should address opportunities and obstacles of each workshop topic, e.g., decision making, policy (intellectual property), GIS, modeling.

Action 14: Electronic and Paper posters will be invited to be displayed during the Mesa visit on Tuesday evening. Tom Whittaker, Linda Miller

Action 15: Two 7-12 teachers will be identified by Tony Rockwood and will be asked to attend the workshop with the proviso that they publish an article in some education or science periodical, e.g., National Science Teachers Association. Credit will be provided to the teachers for attending through Metropolitan State College.

  • Don Murray provided a demonstration of the Integrated Data Viewer. New features since the last meeting included:
    • InstallAnywhere type of installation with Java and Java3-D bundled into it
    • Improved memory efficiency
    • Performance increase aby 40%
    • Web enabled features (XML configuration, bundles, WebStart, remote data acess)
    • When bundle is saved, it only saves the XML file, which when reopened will go out, get the data, and recreate the display.

Suggested Improvements:

  • Build in "clear cache" feature
  • Build a meter stick that can be moved around the globe to provide a vertical reference
  • Add a probe that can be embedded in the image and display values
  • Rotate globe more slowly or allow adjustability
  • Other items:
  • Requirements page has been updated (per Action Item 4) to reflect the need of 512MB memory better or more. Processor speed over 1GHz,Pentium 4
  • Don demonstrated getting Vis5D data off the Internet (from Jim Steenburgh's site) and displaying it in the IDV
  • Display of preliminary integration of IDV and Web log (blogs)
  • The data disappears after a certain time, and when a bundle is reloaded, if the data is no longer on the THREDDS server, it will not be found. This is a problem being worked with the THREDDS group to provide time relative links to data (i.e. latest). The IDV group is also looking at caching data locally if it has been loaded in.

The meeting adjourned at 12:00 Noon.

Linda Miller
External Liaison, Unidata
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
P.O. Box 3000
Boulder, CO 80307-3000
303-497-8646 fax: 303-497-8690