Policy Committee Meeting Summary:

24-25 May 2004

Boulder, Colorado



Committee Representatives

John Merrill (Chair)

Jim Steenburgh (Users Committee Chair)

Philip Bogden  

Arlene Laing

UPC Staff

David Maidment

Joanne Graham

Melanie Wetzel (Chair Designate)

Jo Hansen


Linda Miller

Agency Representatives

Russ Rew
Michael Goodman (NASA) Tom Yoksas
Bernard Grant (NSF/ATM)  

Clifford Jacobs (NSF/ATM)

UOP Representatives

Leroy Spayd (NOAA/NWS)

Tim Spangler, UOP/COMET

Benjamin Watkins (NOAA/NCDC)


Not Attending

NCAR Representatives

Steve Ackerman, Committee Member

Steve Worley (NCAR/SCD) for Al Kellie Michael Biggerstaff, Committee Member

Al Kellie, SCD Representative


David Carlson, NCAR Representative

Administrative Matters

The draft agenda was approved.

February Summary Notes were approved without change.

Chair designate Melanie Wetzel welcomed new member/technical representative, Philip Bogden (GoMOOS), and new agency representative (NASA) Michael Goodman to the committee. Philip (whose arrival in Boulder was delayed and who was actually welcomed to the committee on Tuesday, the second day) is GoMOOS, (the Gulf of Maine Ocean Observing System), CEO. GoMOOS is a prototype regional, user-driven, coastal ocean observing system. Michael will be moving from NASA/Huntsville to NASA HQ in DC.

Steve Ackerman has agreed to serve as the Policy Committee representative to the Users Committee.

Next Meeting Dates:

Fall Meeting, 27-28 September 2004, (Arlington)

Following discussion of resolution #1 from the March Users Committee meeting:

Resolution 1: The Users Committee recommends to the Policy Committee that the Users Committee continue to meet twice per year, with the option of holding a 3rd Users Committee meeting during summer workshop years.

The Policy Committee accepted the Users Committee resolution and discussed a revised schedule for itself.


Resolution 1: The Policy Committee resolves to hold two meetings per year. A third meeting may be held as deemed necessary.

If the resolution is approved by UCAR President, Rick Anthes, and UOP Director, Jack Fellows, it will be implemented effective with the fall meeting.

Discussion of resolution #2 from March Usercomm meeting: Polcomm plans to evaluate how the NCAR reorganization is going at the next two meetings and evaluate the potential for future opportunities for enhanced collaboration between Unidata and NCAR.

Status Reports

Director's Report (Ramamurthy)

Staffing (2 positions are open) and the challenge of meeting growing user support are areas of concern. Otherwise the outlook and activity within the Program Center since the last meeting are upbeat. Some items of activity are:


New proposal activity: Unidata is a co-PI on an NSF/NMI proposal, VEOLA, A Virtual Earth Observatory and Laboratory whose PI is at the University of Chicago. A second co-PI is at George Mason University.

Budget Report (Graham)

The primary purpose of the presentation was the to set the stage for the Policy Committee meeting in Arlington this fall. FY04 Funding and expenditure projections and projections through FY06 were the central focus of the presentation.

FY04 total new funding is 4.496M. Approximately 3.4 M of that is NSF Core. The remainder is made up of THREDDS2G, NASA/AIST, LEAD, NASA/REASON (DODS), and DLESE Data Services funding. Our expenditures for the year will fall slightly below the total new funding due mainly to salary savings from vacant positions and the long lead time in filling new positions for LEAD. Additionally some projects were funded in advance and are intended to cross fiscal years.

The funding/expenditure outlook, assuming that we fill the Web SE and vacant IDV position late in this fiscal year, is good through FY05 (based on current information that we have about funding, this could change). However, given this same information the funding situation does not look positive into FY06. While this situation is not unique within UCAR, the Unidata leadership team will be taking a close look at options for new funding, as options for how we define our future priorities. T his will be presented for discussion at the next policy committee meeting.


Committee Report (Users Committee, Steenburgh)

The Users Committee met in March in Boulder and passed two resolutions:

  1. Resolution 1: The Users Committee recommends to the Policy Committee that the Users Committee continues to meet twice per year, with the option of holding a 3rd Users Committee meeting during summer workshop years.
  2. Resolution 2 (revised and passed unanimously-30 Mar 04): The Users Committee believes that the Unidata community would benefit from enhanced interactions between Unidata and NCAR and encourages the Policy Committee to work with UCAR to create ways, such as an opportunity fund initiative, to improve such interactions. The Users Committee, however, has strong concerns about more dramatic changes, such as a merger of NCAR and UOP.

Other discussions during the meeting involved the committee's efforts to improve community interactions and input via:

Agency Reports

NSF (Jacobs)

The budget portion of the NSF report was a little pessimistic with a predicted reduction in funding over the next two years. For 2004, however, GEO's overall funding has increased 2.2% while ATM's is increasing 3.5% which includes opportunity costs for AMISR (Advanced Modular Incoherent Scatter Radar) and priority costs. Dollars for core programs are few.

The HIAPER MREFC (Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction) Instrumentation solicitation was released in November 2003. Forty-six proposals were received in response asking for a variety of instrumentation. Fifteen were funded at a total of 12.5M dollars.

Citing a "Data-enabled Knowledge Law," that states that the useful power of a dataset, multiplies rapidly as the number of data products increases, Cliff noted that ATD, Unidata, JOSS, and SCD need to develop a system to enable field programs.

NSF is now providing more funding (in terms of $$$) among multiple investigator projects than individual projects.


NOAA/NWS (Spayd)

.NOAA's structure reflects its customer service focus with its vision informing the other pieces, mission, goals, programs, performance measurements, and implementing strategies

NWS Public/Private Policy. The comment period on the policy has been extended until June 30. Thus far, there are no surprises in comments received.

Data quality problems are sometimes cited as the reason for not releasing data to the public.

NOAA/NCDC (Watkins)

NCDC, whose mission is providing access to and stewardship of the country's global climate and weather related data and assessing and monitoring climate variation and change, is collocated with the Air Force and the Navy climatology offices. Archiving the data required an integrated approach and NOSA (NOAA's Observing System Architecture) resulted from that need.

Acquiring data from NCDC formerly required a phone call to the center, while that remains a possibility more data is now acquired from NCDC by web access FTP. Like the weather service any changes have to be vetted through a larger group.

The observing system is an end-to-end national architecture that is known as CLASS. NCDC has been a good archivist system, but has been less effective as a steward of the data. Quality control of the data needs to improve. Data formats need to improve so that more accurate forecasts can be realized.

More scientists have to have access to the data, but as with other agencies funding has been and remains problematic.

NASA (Goodman)

NASA's space exploration policy consists of several components: the space shuttle and international space station, the crew exploration vehicle, lunar exploration. Other key elements such as Mars exploration have extreme budget implications. Decisions about what actually is affordable in the long term are under consideration.

Space science and exploration science and aeronautics comprise over seventy-five percent of the agency budget. the Earth Science budget outlook is not optimistic, and even at its present 9% of the total budget will likely take a hit. It is projected to decline from $1.5B to $1.3B in FY07. Some projects will be delayed. And among those is GPM which will likely be delayed until 2010.


Unidata/CUAHSI Collaboration (Maidment, Ramamurthy)

CUAHSI (Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc.) is an incorporated entity that has 3 FTEs whose salaries are paid through a core grant. At this time there are 89 member universities. It is one of several pilot projects that are part of the NSF Cyberinfrastructure program.

At this time the CUAHSI Hydrologic Information System (HIS) project is developing an RFP to perform preliminary research for prototyping for HIS.

Model output do not work with GIS data don't flow continuously

Integrating data streams: a prototype study in the Neuse river basin in North Carolina

The challenges of the dialogue between Unidata and HIS are:

Focused on the present Focused on the past
Mostly "push" technology Mostly "pull" technology
Operates mostly in Linux and Unix Operates mostly in Windows
Uses mainly public domain and institutional software Mixture of commercial and public domain software
3D, time varying data continuously over the earth Monitoring gauge and GIS data

What's next : pilot projects? educational activities? Data viewing via IDV? Joint CUAHSI-UCAR proposal for atmospheric-hydrology data integration?


Some conclusions from the discussion:

AGU Fall Meeting Participation (Miller)

Unidata has proposed a Union Session to the AGU for its fall meeting: "The Water Cycle and Societal Impacts: Integrated Cyberinfrastructure for Observations and Forecasts." Session conveners from outside Unidata are Steven Hankin (Pacific Marine Environment Laboratory), Polcomm committee member, David Maidment (UT-Austin), Phil Sharfstein, Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center, and Olga Wilhelmi, NCAR/ESIG. Acceptance will be indicated by the end of the month of June.

Unidata has, in the past few years, alternated between taking the booth either to the AMS or to the AGU. Consensus among the committee seemed to indicate that the booth should go to the AGU this cycle and Unidata could share UOP's booth at the AMS.

Another decision as yet unmade is that of holding a Unidata forum at the meeting. A forum was held in 1995, and there were mixed reviews on its success level. Now, 9 years later, the community composition has altered and it may be time to hold another forum at the AGU. The idea is under consideration.

Unidata Reorganization (Ramamurthy)

A reorganization of the UPC's staff has been under discussion since the staff retreat in September 2003. The structure proposed at that time was one that would follow the endeavors proposed in the 2008 funding proposal, and initially outlined in Unidata's strategic plan. A Reorganization Task Force (RTF) was convened. The task force met 8 times and discussed proposed structures and philosophies. The final plan was formulated based on its recommendations, staff input, (Mohan met with staff members who were not RTF members) and additional consultations with the Unidata Management Team (UMT).


New Members Appointments Process (all)

Two positions on both Unidata governing groups, the Users Committee and the Policy Committee will be open in the fall. positions are available for each of the committees.


CyRDAS Report (Ramamurthy)

To address the problems created by huge volumes of observational and model data volumes, the rapid expansion of application of data assimilation and better world-wide collaboration NSF funded a study group CyRDAS (Cyberinfrastructure for Research, Development and Education in the Development and Education in the Atmospheric Sciences) for a one-year period. The group was charged with assessing the opportunities for advancement in research and education in the atmospheric sciences (AS), and the ways cyberinfrastructure (CI) can contribute to both formal and informal education; to make recommendations that would help the research opportunities identified; and developing an implementation plan.

To address the four CI areas: social and cultural issues, high-end computing issues, data issues, and software issues, seven focus groups were identified. Some of the findings were:

Recommendations were divided into five general areas: general, social and cultural, data, computing infrastructure and capacity building, and software.


UPC is a model for community cyberinfrastructure development in the atmospheric sciences. It should act as a facilitator in the process.

Level II Data Distribution (Miller)

Distribution of Level II WSR-88D data to the atmospheric sciences community has been a goal of the UPC's since 1986 In mid-April the goal is now in sight with NOAA’s National Weather Service now making data available through distribution from three sites.

This was a highly collaborative/community-driven project. Uses for the data are numerous and among them are: to expose students to a full suite of radar information; cloud and wind analysis, storm tracking, and visualization with IDV and IRAS.


Send comments or suggestions to Jo Hansen Unidata Program Center Liaison to the Policy Committee.