MeteoForum Status

MeteoForum Activities - Spring - Fall 2004

Tom Yoksas
Timothy Spangler
October 15, 2004


Efforts referenced within this report are based on five of the six endeavors articulated in the Unidata 2008 Proposal:

MeteoForum - Unidata/COMET

The MeteoForum vision was articulated in the 2001 Fulker/Spangler proposal submitted in application for UCAR Director's Opportunity Funding (Jack Fellows):

MeteoForum - An International Network of Meteorological Training Centers for the 21st Century

"The MeteoForum pilot project will include a small group of educational institutions (some universities and some WMO RMTCs) that are motivated to enhance the contributions of modern meteorology in their regions. Participants will be expected to have relatively fast Internet access, appropriate computers, and suitable personnel. Some of these personnel will be trained to run MeteoForum software on their computers so as to to access real-time data, training materials, and other resources. Where practical, participants in the MeteoForum pilot also will contribute real-time data and educational resources to the effort. By integrating these elements, the pilot project will serve as a model on which to build a full-scale international MeteoForum. Initially, the MeteoForum pilot project will build upon capabilities now offered in the U.S. by the government-sponsored COMET and Unidata programs"

The MeteoForum initiative is an active collaboration, even though it is being conducted in spare time.

The following are highlights of the Unidata (Yoksas) MeteoForum activities for the past half year:

Some background on Meteoforum Activities

The following is Tim Spangler's informal summary of the MeteoForum planning session held at the 2004 AMS Annual Meeting in Seattle, WA.

11 January 2004
Seattle, WA
AMS annual meeting

Tim gave an overview of the MeteoForum program, reminding everyone of where the program has been and what is has accomplished.

Tom provided an overview of the LDM software and improvements that resulted from providing data to South America. Interesting that the University of Rio de Janeiro provided resources to make a data distribution network for South America a reality. They achieved sustained transfer rates of 1.6 gigabytes per hour to South America over a 10 day period at the end of December. The data relayed by the LDM represented every non-restricted data set that Unidata that relays through its IDD. Tom has also been working with CPTEC, the analog to NASA in the United States on the establishment of a data relay network for Brazil, Argentina, and beyond. This effort named IDD-Brazil uses AMPATH (FIU and Global Crossing) fiber optic infrastructure that has been partially funded by the NSF. UFRJ has committed to assist in creating a multilingual site explaining the possibilities of the IDD-Brazil.

Current IDD-Brazil Participants:

University of Miami
UFRJ (Rio de Janeiro)
UFPA (Belem)
USP (Sao Paulo)

Unidata Partnerships:

AMPATH (FIU/Global Crossing)
RNP (Rede Nacional de Ensino e Pesquisa/Brazil)
ANSP (USP network)

Elen has made some new contacts for IDD Brazil, Universidade Estadual do Mananhao (Sao Luis, Mananhao)

Reports by RMTCs:

Argentina - NWS Fernando Requena: Fernando gave a nice presentation showing how being part of MeteoForum gave them incentives to upgrade their capabilities.

Argentina - UBA Marisa Gassman: Marisa talked about how they are receiving a Unidata grant and funds from MeteoForum, (including money for a video projector) and will soon be able to display real-time data in the classroom.

Brazil - UFPA Galdino Mota: Galdino gave a presentation about their program. They are indeed receiving data but need several PCs to allow access for faculty and students. COMET promised to send several refurbished PCs this spring. He also talked about translating some educational materials into Portuguese for the Angola RMTC.

Venezuela Ramon Vinas: Abraham Salcedo visited Unidata and COMET in Boulder (last June). They are trying to get high-speed access through the geophysics laboratory. They have installed 20 computers in a laboratory for the RMTC, and are waiting for the connection. Started an advanced course in hydrology (last Oct), one year course with 16 students, 7 venezuela, and the rest from the region. is the website, and is being taught over the web after a three week in residence meeting. WMO provided some support for this. They will come back in May for a practicum three weeks. The rest of their activities are for Venezuelans. They also send students to Costa Rica (five now). Weather service modernization is ongoing since 1998 (eight radars from Germany), 55 synoptic stations, 5 upper air stations, to build a national weather service (now there are several regional weather services) starting with a national institute. They hope to start their own mesoscale modeling in the next year and they hope th

Barbados Selvin Burton: a regional training center for 16 countries, both meteorology and hydrology. From Guyana through the islands to Jamaica, Barbados is not a member. Other countries also occasionally send students. CMHI is autonomous but a member of the University of the West Indies. They have tried to add graduate work through the university but it has not worked yet. They have to get a graduate degree in an environmental field. They may introduce a graduate degree in environmental resource management, with a track in climate change, and there may be a program specialization in applied meteorology. They train at all levels. They now have 256Kb access to the institute so there has been some improvement. They have not been very active. Bandwidth has been slow, it was 64K connection. They tried for ADSL at 768K downlink and 256Kb uplink. They couldnt provide a static IP address. So now they have a 256K line. They will try to see what they can get with it, including some satellite imagery. They will try t

Costa Rica Vilma Castro: Vilma reported on UCR activities. MeteoForum has improved communication and stimulated her thinking about how other RMTCs function. The most important outcome is communication and cooperation. She commented on help she got from Tony Mostek and Tom Whittaker in preparing for the Barbados December seminar. Real-time data provides her with independence, and students don't have to go the met service to practice. Students can come and go, any hour, and use the data for forecasting practice. At the RMTC they don't have to get permission while they do at the met service. Her web cast is derived from a presentation she made to the banana growers in Costa Rica. It has resulted in some money for the university, and they are buying meteorological stations. Galdino said he had similar experiences and frustrations as Vilma. They especially like the camaraderie of these meetings (MeteoForum) and the people they meet at MeteoForum and AMS.

Unidata Mohan Ramamurthy: Mohan gave an overview of Unidata, emphasizing the new initiatives they will support as well as their continuing services. The new LDM, spawned by the need to solve MeteoForum issues, has been adopted by the NWS to distribute Level II radar. The newest initiative is called LEAD for linked environments for atmospheric discovery and that brings together very diverse and distributed computing resources.

WMO Ion Draghici: Ion made a few personal comments. He believes that the energy of the MeteoForum project is helpful but that the RMTCs must continue to work harder. He observes that RMTCs in general dont work together and dont communicate and share. Can we designate a common level at which most RMTCs can cooperate? Case studies might be a good start. He also encouraged the RMTCs to adopt the new classification system as an agent for change. MeteoForum is the glue that is assisting the RMTCs to grow.

NWS Jeff Stuart: Jeff focuses on international training for the NWS, as a part of the international affairs office at NWS. They would like to make international training better and make sure that their limited funding is being used effectively. The future is distance learning. He would like to see the NWS have a role in MeteoForum, fund more translations, and create a few projects specifically for international audiences. Most international training has been in residence and through the desk initiative at NCEP. And it has required travel for the participants who have to spend four months away from their weather services. They train 24 per year in that method. They have drafted their first international training plan for application beginning October 2004 (Fiscal year 2005). If we test a distance learning program it must be shown to be effective. The first project must be successful.

Big issues:

How to teach with Real Time data? Elen has an NSF grant to look into this very issue, and she is collaborating with someone who is fluent in Spanish, English, and Portuguese.

Discussion on priorities:

  1. Work on real-time data and finish the job at Venezuela and CIMH.

  2. Teaching with real-time data: Vilma; it takes a long time for faculty to realize they have data and how to teach with it. Do the faculty really know what they have available? The group felt that a workshop on teaching with real-time data was needed. Generally we felt the workshop should be at an RMTC. Costs can be shared with the host and perhaps WMO. We should plan it when most RMTCs have access to real-time data and focus on changing the behavior of instructors and helping teachers to introduce real-time data. September was suggested but may be too soon. Fernando wondered about having a traveling workshop but that eliminates the interaction between instructors. Should be a time when they are not teaching. Elen suggested August.

  3. Translations: what is the most important? ICAO is interested in COMET modules on icing and might pay for translations. Currently in progress are: hurricane strike, convective storm matrix, MCS matrix, and NWP (parts) including the models matrix. Ramon and Marisa were asked to consider what they would like translated. Vilma said she was interested in more water vapor imagery information in Spanish (Roger Weldon?). Galdino volunteered to select a module for Portuguese translation, and MeteoForum or COMET would fund a few students to do the work. They have a faculty member who has translated several books (Dimtri Nechet). A graduate student fellowship is $300-$500/month. Galdino asked about funding a graduate student to work on case study and real-time data. Vilma suggested that translations require more than one person.

  4. Create a new case study: Vickie suggested to Galdino that they consider a web cast that would be developed in Portuguese.

  5. Radar: a big need but nothing is already created. US universities may be already preparing stuff because they now have Level II data available. Would this be a reasonable NSF proposal?

  6. Tropical waves web cast: could be both a case study and a web cast. Arlene volunteered to help and Julia from Belem might add a few slides about Amazonia. Step #1 is for CIMH to develop the PP presentation and video tape it. Selvin will look into this and perhaps invite someone from COMET to assist.

  7. Do we want to develop a comprehensive case study in the COMET/Unidata model? Galdino might select a case study and assist COMET or Unidata in developing an Amazonia case study. Galdino will identify a case study in real-time and alert COMET and Unidata. Galdino will grab local data, and Unidata/COMET will grab model and Satellite data. Julia runs MM5 also and we can ask her to archive her model runs. Tom and Galdino will develop a list of data that needs to be archived when Galdino selects a case study. COMET or Unidata will then build the case study and distribute on CD.

  8. MeteoForum web site: Linda wonders if we shouldn’t write up a summary of what MeteoForum has made happen, from a participant like Vilma. Vilma suggested that all of them can help write it. We decide to keep the website for administrative functions, and keep good links as well. COMET will maintain the site but Linda will provide some input, and Tim will put materials from this meeting on the site as well.

  9. Pat asked the MeteoForum group to collaborate with COMET on learning object development and provide small amounts of information that might help us build learning objects with wider range of interest and applicability. Ion liked this.


Tim Spangler, COMET
Jack Fellows, UOP
Vickie Johnson, COMET
Liz Lessard, COMET
Pat Parrish, COMET
Galdino Mota, Universidade Federal do Para, Belem
Arlene Laing, USF
Linda Miller, Unidata
Ion Draghici, WMO
Elen Cutrim, Western Michigan University
Fernando Requena, Argentina Weather Service
Jeff Stuart, NWS
Mohan Ramamurthy, Unidata
Col Ramon Vinas, PR Venezuela Weather Service
Tom Yoksas, Unidata
Selvin Burton, Barbados
Marisa Gassman, University of Buenos Aires
Vilma Castro, University of Costa Rica

The following is the MeteoForum 2003 annual report prepared by Tim Spangler and Tom Yoksas and submitted to the Director of the UCAR Office of Programs, Jack Fellows.

Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology, Education and Training (COMET™)
Unidata Program Center (UPC)
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR)


DATE: 2 January 2004
TO: MeteoForum Participants
Jack Fellows
FROM: Tim Spangler
SUBJECT: Annual Report

The MeteoForum project has been active for about two years now. This is a brief summary of our accomplishments and thoughts on where we might go next. We need to be proud of what has occurred to date by people who are doing this in their spare time.

As Dave Fulker and I conceived of the program in April 2001, we established three goals:

During the Orlando AMS meeting (January 2002), all of us decided on three areas of emphasis:

Over the last three years, I have visited every RMTC in WMO Regions III and IV, and Tom Yoksas has visited two. The common themes from all of the centers were:

The first full year of MeteoForum was dedicated to two issues: Internet access and real-time data. Tom Yoksas Yoksas has been especially active on these problems and has been working closely with many of you. Some information on current status:

Tom has suggested that we need to provide training for both UFPA and UBA on how to utilize Unidata software for the analysis and display of meteorological data. This should be an action item if everyone agrees.

There are a number of other activities that have come up in the course of the year. The first is a joint project with the Argentina Weather Service to translate more COMET modules into Spanish. The project is underway, funded principally by the National Weather Service. We are using a trust fund, created by MeteoForum at the WMO, to transfer funds to Argentina.

The University of Puerto Rico, a Unidata site, has volunteered to share data and work closely with MeteoForum. Professor Amos Winter eagerly volunteered to help distribute data to the Caribbean area.

Dr. Elen Cutrim of Western Michigan University has recently joined the Unidata Users Committee, and is becoming an active contributor to the international outreach activities in which Unidata is involved. Elen's experience as a former director of the RMTC in Belem, former chair of the atmospheric science department at the UFPA, and a long time Unidata systems user is seen as a valuable resource for MeteoForum activities.

Vilma Castro is working with COMET to finalize our first MeteoForum Webcast. She has submitted the power point presentation and audio, and we are working with her to produce a final product. The title is Meteorological Information and Agricultural Activities.

The National Weather Service provided funding to COMET to create and distribute an archive CD of all COMET web modules. This work has led COMET to issue annual archive CDs for all users. The first archive CD was given to ACMED that is expected to distribute it to 53 countries in Africa.

The WMO has provided some support to RMTCs to participate in MeteoForum and continues to be very engaged in what we are doing, including providing partial travel support for RMTC directors to attend the MeteoForum meeting in Seattle, 11 January 2004. We always appreciate the WMO support for our activities.

Next Steps (to be revised after Seattle meeting):

From last year's report (2003):

It is very gratifying how this simple project we are working on together has caught the attention of many people worldwide. The WMO Executive Council Panel of Experts on Education and Training put the following in their report to the WMO and the Secretary General for inclusion in the council report:

"The Council welcomed the initiative supported by COMET and UCAR, USA, to launch a MeteoForum pilot project aiming at developing a virtual centre through which WMO RMTCs in RA III and RA IV could access data and training provided by WMO, Unidata, COMET, and universities, and share data with each other. It encouraged the Secretariat to explore the possibility of launching similar initiatives in other WMO regions."

This international interest, especially at the WMO continues. I will be attending the WMO Panel of Experts on Education and Training meeting in Turkey this coming May, and will report on our activities.


This page was prepared by Tom Yoksas.