Unidata Policy Committee

Thursday, 21 October 2010
NOAA/ESRL-Room 1D 708

Friday, 22 October 2010
Center Green 1, Room 3150


Members UPC Staff
Steven Businger, Chair, Univ of Hawaii Ethan Davis
Brian Colle, Stony Brook Univ Doug Dirks
Anton Kruger, Univ of Iowa Ben Domenico
Gary Lackmann, North Carolina State Univ Ginger Emery
Kersten Lehnert, Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory-Columbia Univ Linda Miller
Paul Ruscher, Florida State Univ Terry Mitchell
Jim Steenburgh, Univ of Utah Russ Rew

Agency Representatives UOP/NCAR Representatives
Bernard Grant, (NSF/ATM) Mohan Ramamurthy, UOP/Unidata
Peter Griffith (NASA)  
Committee Representative  
Tom Whittaker (Users Committee Chair)  

The next Policy Committee meeting will be 23-24 May 2011

Unidata Acronym/Glossary List

Action Items - 21-22 October 2010

Administrative Matters - Businger
  • The draft agenda was adopted.
  • Review of Action Items from the Spring 2010 meeting. We were unable to get a representative to speak to the committee from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. All other items were completed.

Russ Rew provided a white paper on the Branding issue that was discussed during the spring 2010 meeting. Users do not associate Unidata with its products, i.e. IDV, etc.

Discussion: There's an issue of open source licenses, and the fact that there are several other "Unidatas" in the world. We can ask that people making presentations provide acknowledgement of Unidata when referring to one of its products. Should Unidata trademark their products? Unidata could be in the menu bar or at the bottom of each image. A request to users to acknowledge Unidata could be suggested. Some statement could be placed in the registration area of the Web site.

A report on steps taken by UPC on branding will be provided at the next meeting.

Director's Report - Ramamurthy

Mohan began the report by thanking the outgoing member of the Users Committee, Bill Gallus, Iowa State, and welcoming Francina Dominguez, University of Arizona. The Policy Committee members rotating off are Vanda Grubisic, Univ of Vienna, and Paul Rucher, Florida State Univ. The new PolComm members are Kerstin Lehnert, Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia Univ, and Kevin Kloesel, Univ of Oklahoma. A special thanks to all who have served, and a special recognition to Vanda, who has just taken over as NCAR/EOL Director.

Mohan reported on the data feeds, including motherlode. It was suggested that tracking of that data along with remote data access and FTP be added to the next meeting report and discussion.

There was a comment about fewer downloads of GEMPAK, due to lack of releases. This will probably be occurring more and more as the migration to AWIPS II continues.

Mohan suggested that the PolComm check out the new web site: <http://v3.unidata.ucar.edu>and provide comments to Jennifer Oxelson <oxelson@unidata.ucar.edu>

Tom Whittaker asserted that the Users Committee met 18-19 October 2010, and concerning the survey, a sub-committee was created to group the Users Survey results. The grouping will be shared with the UPC, and ultimately published, without names, to the community.

Budget Report - Mitchell

The increase in the FY10 indirect overhead rate was offset with a modest decrease in our indirect benefit rate. That, combined with a higher than usual attrition rate resulted in a 4.6% decrease of FY10 expenses from FY09.  The funding side of the equation was also favorable for the budget. We received a one-time increase of $400k from NSF for the funding gap that was created between the end of the 2008 core award in September 2008 and the beginning of the current 2013 award in December 2008.  We also received $3.9m of FY11 core funding all up front in FY10.  Additionally, our efforts to increase non core funding with more proposal submissions has started to pay off with two FY10 proposals being awarded and two still pending.  The increase in funding has erased our deficit spending and will keep the budget balanced through FY11.

We've budgeted for another Software Engineer position as well as a new Technical Manager position for FY11, which would take us to 23.1 FTE from the current 21.1 FTE in the program including two part-time positions.  Labor costs continue to account for well over 84% of all expenses.  Although we're looking good financially heading into the new fiscal year, we've once again made it a priority to aggressively pursue and solicit additional non core support as appropriate to help meet the goals and priorities set in the 2013 proposal.

Future Improvements of Weather and Climate Prediction
- MacDonald

Sandy MacDonald kicked off the presentations from NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory.

Points made during Sandy's presentation:

  • There were elements of improvements in prediction, including global predictions (both weather and climate), and regional predictions (mainly weather) discussed.
  • The pyramid of geophysical prediction includes observations, research, models and societal actions which were covered in the presentation.
  • NOAA research and the connection to Unidata and academia is key to improving forecasts.
  • How can we use all of the research being done?
  • Skill in long term climate change and weather forecasting is imperative.
  • Observing Weather and Climate from the Ground Up: A Nationwide Network of Networks - (MacDonald suggested the need for a network to compare and determine which observing systems are most useful and cost effective).
  • Looking for the optimum combination in observing systems.
  • Ocean observing, assimilation and modeling are progressing rapidly
  • Ensemble modeling-assimilation advances-WRF-massively parallel fine grain resolution
  • The time is coming where 2000 64-bit elite supercomputers will run on one single computer
  • The FIM model is part of the NCEP ensemble for the tropics

The next generation weather models are driving computer requirements. In 2011, GPU 4km NIM 1 day forecast will require 5120 processors, 8122 points per processor, .56 hours and 2.3% of real time.

The next modernization of the NWS will produce improved aviation and prediction (NextGen); two hour convective warning; renewable energy prediction requirements and provide air quality and homeland security (chem, biological, and nuclear threats)

  • NextGen is a Congressionally mandated initiative to modernize the U.S. air transportation system in order to:
    • increase capacity and reliability
    • improve safety and security
    • minimize the environmental impact of aviation
  • Weather accounts for 70% of air traffic delays
  • 42B dollars - losses that could be saved in the he aviation system

4-D cube - provides advanced data, standards, (we should consider LDM, netCDF), distributed data base. It will have a common domain awareness with single authoritative source and availability to everybody.

Thoughts on climate - begin with the historical climate network - add lidars, radiometers, surface based GPS receivers to get the slant delay for each satellite. Have a phased array network spread over the entire U.S.

Modeling Activities at ESRL Global Systems Division – Koch

Steve Koch provided an overview of GSD and their transition of 26 research technologies to operational weather services.

Some important projects are:

RUC and WRF Rapid Refresh models

High Resolution Rapid Refresh model (HRRR) with an hourly assimilation cycle and radar reflectivity assimilation. The presentation provides an example of the Rapid Refresh Radar Reflectivity assimilation. The HRRR is critical for severe weather forecasting, as well as renewable energy, hydrology, and aviation.

FIM runs to 10 days and covers CONUS, W Pac, W Atl, Arctic, S Hem, Africa, Europe/Asia which is now updated to the new GFS physics suite. Many experimental runs and comparisons are being made between the GFS and FIM. A letter of agreement between NCEP and GSD has been signed and the two organizations have agreed to do further testing with FIM and the National Environmental Modeling System (NEMS).

WRF/chem is available for FIM - used for volcano forecasting and FIM-HYCOM.

For Climate projection, GSD is looking at Hydrostatic global models, whereas for weather, the non-Hydrostatic models are used for forecasting up to two weeks.

The future at GSD includes FIM as a possible contender for implementation as a member of the NCEP global ensemble. The Non-hydrostatic model is still be explored and tested. The FIM model includes chemistry, ash, and ocean. They plan to develop the hybrid Ensemble Kalman Filter/4DVAR to data assimilation. GSD will lead the DTC ensemble test bed.

Action: Unidata should work closer with the DTC and GSD to get data sets useful to university community.

  1. Data requirements: FIM, HRRR
  2. THREDDS - connecting data people from both programs-Get the Rapid Refresh into a THREDDS server
  3. Unidata and DTC needs stronger cooperation-work to get high impact weather even case studies to the community

Renewable Energy Activities - Melinda Marquis

NOAA needs to provide better observations and models for renewable energies that are weather and climate dependent. DOE and NOAA are working together to increase accuracy in short-range wind forecasts. DOE is also working with NOAA for the atmospheric and oceanic science in developing renewable energy. Short term 1-6 hrs (ramp) events are critical in understanding the boundary layer. Improved weather forecasts will help with solar. Models need to be enhanced with boundary layer winds.

Improved observations are needed for solar. DOE's ARM and NOAA Surfrad programs are measuring solar reflectivity. Currently only nine sites measure the beam for CSP. A recent DOE/NREL study indicated that by the year 2030, electricity from wind will be at the 20% level. Additional observations are needed to serve RE and climate. Closer collaboration with all sectors is needed to reach the goals for climate and RE. Slide 17 provides a draft MOU between DOE and NOAA. See slides for detailed information.

- Patty Miller

Patty provided a MADIS overview. Following are some bulleted items of relevance:

  • 64,833 surface stations from over 180 networks producing 13,000,000 obs/day.
  • 154 profiler sites with 200,000 obs/day.
  • 450,000 aircraft obs/day
  • there are global radiosondes and satellite obs available
  • 250 university clients are using MADIS.

They are running a THREDDS and OPeNDAP server using LDM, FTP, and http. No COSMIC data has been added to MADIS. The MADIS staff is working on the National Mesonet Plan (mobile vehicle observations). They will be working with the NextGen weather information base and the National Surface Weather Observing System. Another operational data system is the Next Generation NOAA Profiler Network. They will reach full operational capability one year from now in the transition to NWS operations.

Networks are time stamped to observation time. QC capabilities exist for data sets. There is also station monitoring capabilities. The MADIS archive system will be transitioned to NCDC.

NWAVE – Rob Sears

The vision for N-Wave is a consolidated agency-wide network resource that meets NOAA's research connectivity requirements - and, where appropriate, supplements NOAA's operational connectivity requirements.

Initially, the network adds onto the existing HPC sites. The plan is to interconnect NOAA's research and development high-performance computing systems at: GFDL, ESRL, NWS/NCEP and new installations at ORNL, and one in Fairmont, West Virginia, and eventually to Seattle. The Global Research Network operations at Indiana University tie the systems together. 2009 stimulus money has helped to move the project forward.

Documentation Consortium- Ted Habermann

Ted Habermann has worked on data and metadata issues for years. His latest effort is coordination across Earth systems data disciplinary and international boundaries. The Documentation Consortium that is proposed would bring people together to determine and meet common needs concerning data formats, metadata, standards, etc.

Core tasks include outreach and standards evolution across disciplines. There are still sole PIs who possess the knowledge about how the data were collected and/or processed. It is important to reach out to them to save their data and include them in an effort to save their data, rather than to have it considered flawed and untrustworthy by others. It's a question of scientific integrity in new and challenging ways.

Just recently a series of international (ISO) metadata standards have emerged, forming the foundation for documenting observed and synthesized data. Many groups are working on adoption of standards, but it is crucial to coordinate these efforts.

Unidata should be involved in this effort due to netCDF, THREDDS, and general interfacing with WMO international standards. The NextGen project (Lincoln Lab) is also looking toward the future and steps to be taken for important projects.

Coordination and collaboration is paramount in meeting these needs.

See Ted's presentation and Documentation Consortium proposal for detailed information.


The following llist of items were mentioned during a short discussion period.

  • Unidata should consider Rapid Refresh on a THREDDS server because it’s so massive
  • NCEP has operational models supported by the WOC at NOAA
  • NCDC has a longer archive - NOMADS could be used
  • HRRR is running 15 hours every hour-Cartesian data set
  • Icosohedra model can be subset
  • NCDC version of NOMADS has a longer archive – OPENDAP , GFS, RTMA, WAVE models-model data archive-gridded data
    • Need to find out if it is running a data archive or are data being truncated at specific  times
    • How will the data be archived for the 4D cube? 
    • What about gridded data archive?
  • When asked what ESRL and GSD's ideas for collaborations are, the following areas were suggested:
    • university researchers could help by testing and verifying the new models (check with Stan Benjamin and GSD modeling group)
    • contribute to and use MADIS - provide input (Patty Miller and group)
    • provide ideas for NextGen, concepts, i.e., what data should be included (there is a potential for closer cooperation in this area) in the 4D cube
  • The HRRR, FIM, NIM - evaluate the models and provide the comments to modeling group
    • HRRR is the WRF ARW, interactions fostered through annual meetings
    • Community of operations-National Unified OPerations Capability- (NUOPC)
      Get the community involved-engage the research community into global models running at 15 km resolution..
      New research program for mesoscale global models-tropical 10 day forecast to 100 day forecast.
    • NUOPC effort-US is 5th in the world-how can we organize the community to work on this problem?
    • NOAA wants to engage universities to help
    • FIM tutorials – needs support
    • WRF/Chem-George Grell is currently a one man show in this area.
    • Organize as a community-models as needed to work on interoperability
    • US investment in global modeling is under performing – Adm Titley-ocean models, must organize the investment more effectively - Unidata could play the role of organizing the community
  • It takes a commitment on part of Federal agencies, NOAA, Navy, for Earth System Prediction Capability of NUOCI
  • NSF, DOE, NSF, NASA, OSTP – need to re-emphasize the national climate assessment program

AWIPS Presentation and Demo - Mainelli and James

Some universities will need additional funding to make the transition from GEMPAK to AWIPS II and the EDEX server. Can larger universities help the smaller universities by sharing the data via the EDEX server? Perhaps the equipment awards could help, or Unidata could approach the NSF for additional funding during the transition to help the smaller sites.

Unidata needs to be careful what they post as hardware requirements for AWIPS II, until the requirements are solid, and not in a state of flux, as they seem to be at this time. There has been agreement that the requirements will use a 64 bit architecture, rather than the 32 bit that was originally required. It will take some work to get to that point, but the goal is to have that change by spring of 2011.

The committee appreciated the presentation and the demo. It was obvious that things are beginning to take shape.

NSF Report - Bernard Grant

Bernard said the President's Plan for Science and innovation is on track with the 2011 budget request. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) allowed NSF to make 4,599 competitive awards and will support he construction of the Alaska Region Research Vessel. The Administration's priority programs for 2011 are:

  • Graduate Research Fellowship Program - $158 million
  • Faculty Early Career Development - $209 million
  • Climate Change Education Program - $10 million
  • Advanced Tecnological Education - $64 million

For GEO, the American Recovery Act GEO investments are $601 million. GEO has done quite well with a 10.2 % increase for FY2010 over FY20009. This includes n Agency-wide climate initiative. For 2011, the President's budget request includes a 7.4 % increase for GEO. The budget includes opportunities for research, infrastructure and education.

See the presentation for further highilghts and details.

NASA Report - Peter Griffin

Earth observing fleet of satellites-NASA was on hold for eight years because of its Earth science budget, but now things are looking up with the potential of the Earth science budget redoubling $2B/year. There is an acceleration of launch schedules with orbiting carbon laboratory. A new launch is scheduled for 2013 for CO2 concentation.  Collaboration with NOAA and the carbon tracker. The Decadal survey report indicated that Tier one projects would be accelerated. The recommendations are provided in three categories:

  • Setting the Foundation: Observations in the Current Decade
  • New Observations for the Next Decade
  • Turning Satellite Observations into Knowledge and Information

The missions recommended by NASA are described in this link.

The Fiscal Year 2010 Congressional Appropriation requires NASA to initiate work towards a Carbon Monitoring System (CMS), and provides some specific direction, including that NASA replicate state and national carbon and biomass inventory processes as well as carry out pre-phase A and pilot initiatives for the development of a CMS.  NASA has initiated two pilot products and a CMS scoping study.  See details at:

The scientific computing budget will double between now and 2015. There is an open government initiative for public comment period that opened on October 20. See: www.nasa.gov/open

Wrap up and discussion included defining the action items..

The meeting adjourned at 11:45 a.m.

Action Items from this meeting.

Presentations from the meeting:


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