Policy Committee Meeting Summary:

15-16 April 2010

Arlington, Virginia


Members UPC Staff
Steven Businger - Chair Ben Domenico
Brian Colle Jo Hansen
Vanda Grubišić Linda Miller
Anton Kruger Terry Mitchell
David Tarboton Russ Rew
Agency Representatives UOP/NCAR Representatives
Bernard Grant, (NSF/ATM) Mohan Ramamurthy, UOP/Unidata
Peter Griffith (NASA)  
  Not in Attendance
Committee Representative Jack Fellows, UOP
Tom Whittaker (Users Committee Chair) Gary Lackman
  Paul Ruscher
  Tim Spangler, COMET
  Steve Worley, NCAR/CISL

See: Unidata Acronym/Glossary List

See: Meeting Index

Action Items

Administrative Matters (Businger)

  • The Draft Agenda was approved. [Note: although the Agenda in Draft form was approved, it was rearranged considerably as the presenters for the "Network of Networks" agenda item became stuck in a traffic mess on the American Legion Bridge. However, one of them, Curtis Marshall, was able to attend the meeting the following day to make the presentation. We are grateful to Dr. Marshall for his proactive solution to the problem.]
  • The Fall 2009 meeting notes were approved.
  • Next Meeting Dates: October 21-22, 2010 in Boulder
  • Review of Action Items and Resolutions from the Fall 2009 meeting:
    • Carried over to the next meeting in Boulder. Linda Miller will invite UNAVCO staff member Shelly Olds to present a seminar on ground-based GPS. Status: Done. Will take place during fall meeting.
    • An NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) staff member should be contacted and asked to speak at a future meeting. Linda Miller has the contact, but the item must be deferred for one year until the meeting is in Boulder. Status: Done. Fall meeting.
    • The UPC should explore setting future meeting sites at federal labs, both in Boulder and off-site. Status: it seems likely that part of the committee's fall meeting will take place at NOAA's ESRL in Boulder.
    • The UPC should consider collaborations with any of the following UCAR's Visiting Scientists Program (VSP), the Advanced Studies Program (ASP), Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Science and Research (SOARS), and the University of Colorado to optimize its resources while increasing its outreach. Status: The UPC will continue to pursue these connections.

Director's Report (Ramamurthy)

Mohan kicked off his presentation with an announcement about Users Committee membership changes. Sean Arms' term as student rep has concluded, and his replacement is Stefan Cecelski both of whom attended the meeting. Two new NOAA representatives, Rebecca Cosgrove, NCEP, and Michelle Mainelli, NCEP joined the committee. Rebecca will represent CONDUIT and its status while Michelle will represent the AWIPS II progress/position. In addition to Sean, the UserCom bid farewell to Brent Gordon, NCEP representative.

Other highlights:

  • Unidata's 25th anniversary event (approximately 100 people attended)
  • Data flows
  • Data access infrastructure
  • Unidata projects
    • RAMADDA -- In the RAMADDA context Mohan announced the departure of RAMADDA developer Jeff McWhirter.
    • netCDF
    • netCDF/Java
    • IDV
    • COSMIC data with IDV
    • GEMPAK
    • Metrics
  • Equipment Awards
  • Diversity of Unidata tools
  • Remodeling and temporary move
  • Unidata Training Workshops: are scheduled for the fall, October 24 to November 13. Detailed information will be available toward the end of May.


  • Developing a RAMADDA workaround. Committee members discussed options for accommodating RAMADDA development in Jeff's absence. Source Forge was mentioned as a way to accomplish continuing development of the software.
  • The committee asks that the JD for the RAMADDA position be circulated as broadly as possible, specifically to the "all community" list.

Budget Report (Mitchell)

With a modest decrease in our indirect benefit rate from FY09, we saw only a 1% increase in expenses for FY10. We anticipate a $184k increase
in our FY10 core funding, which will bring us close to a balanced budget in the core. We also anticipate a $129k increase in non core funding
which will reverse our five-year downward trend in that funding category. At the current budget level, we're fully extended in the core at 22.60 FTEs as labor costs continue to account for about 84% of all expenses. At the half-way point of the fiscal year, we've already submitted six proposals and have at least a couple more in the works in an effort to increase our non core funding. The timing of our new core award continues to be an issue as we will have to tap into the reserves again to cover expenses for the two-month period from October - December 2010. We're hopeful, however, that NSF will be able to supplement our funding to sync up the funding cycle. That being said, we've once again made it a priority to aggressively pursue and solicit additional core
and non core support as appropriate to help meet the goals and priorities set for the new proposal.


  • Care should be taken in submitting proposals that could impact NSF funding, the responding comment to that statement is that Unidata only submits proposals that augment goals articulated in its Strategic Plan.
  • Funds received have affected the program in a positive way
  • There's a potential for a review panel to address the outside funding question

Users Committee Report (Whittaker)

Gilbert Sebenste, Northern Illinois University received the Russell L. DeSouza Award for his contributions to the community during the meeting. In accepting the award Gilbert made a presentation detailing his interactions, community efforts, and connections over a 17-year period. His webcast presentation.

As in the present meeting, AWIPS-II occupied a significant portion of the discussion. See: Michelle's presentation

User Com members make site contacts, i.e., contacts with specific individuals at specific sites prior to each meeting. Jen Oxelson has created a detailed, updated site contact list that should facilitate this activity for user com members. For the next series of contacts, committee members are asked to initiate the conversations earlier in the cycle, i.e., in the next month or two and then reconnect with individual one or two more times prior to the next meeting.

The committee will be undertaking to conduct a users survey in the coming months. Committee members contributing to constructing that survey are: Anne Case Hanks, Stefan Cecelski, Bill Gallus, Steve Lazarus who will be working with staff members Linda Miller and Jen Oxelson. Survey discussion

Finally, the committee held a "blue sky session" to give themselves the opportunity to propose and consider new or unique

Agency Reports

NSF (Grant)

The president's budget request for FY 11 includes a 7.4% increase for GEO. In addition, the ARRA contains a 10% increase over FY 09. Thus far GEO has spent only 8% of its ARRA funds, and the remainder must be spent by September.

Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability (SEES), a cross-agency budget is up 35M to 230M. A 2010 Climate research investment includes funds for five cross-directorate solicitations: water: sustainability and climate, ocean acidification, biodiversity, climate change education partnership, and decadal and regional climate prediction using Earth System models.

The 2011 budget request gives GEO the opportunity to make advances in research, infrastructure, and education.

Infrastructure investments by GEO will include, among others, the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputer Center which will receive continued support.

There are several staffing changes in AGS (Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences). Noteworthy for Unidata is the appointment of Michael Morgan as Division Director for AGS. [Michael has long been active in Unidata as a user, a Users Committee member, and as a presenter at the 2006 Users Workshop.]


  • In answer to a question about the projected 2011 base funding increase for NCAR, the answer is that funds for the Wyoming Center are not included in NCAR's increase.

NASA (Griffith)

NASA's position on Earth science is that it is science in service to society and that NASA's Earth observations are designed to answer questions at the frontiers of science and societal concern. The Earth Science Division which will see a budget increase in FY 11 is organized around six focus areas:

1. Climate variability and change
2. Atmospheric composition
3. Carbon cycle and ecosystem
4. Water and energy cycle
5. Weather
6. Earth surface and interior

Several initiatives and missions were described for the committee;

SAGE, the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment II (SAGE II) instrument measures the amount of ozone and other trace gases that are in the atmosphere by measuring the amount of sunlight that comes through the atmosphere at different altitudes.

GRACE, the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, through a partnership with NASA and the German Aerospace Center, tracks the monthly changes in the earth's gravity field caused by the movement of water.

OCO, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory can be used to evaluate emissions over periods of several years with 1 PPM accuracy. OCO-2 will be launched by February 2013. This is a carbon monitoring pilot program.

GLORY NPP, The Glory satellite consists of a spacecraft bus and three instruments Glory is a remote sensing spaceflight mission designed to 1) collect data on the optical, microphysical, and chemical properties,and spatial and temporal distributions of aerosols and clouds; and
2) continue collection of total solar irradiance data for the longterm climate record. Glory will Increase Our Understanding of the Earth's Energy Balance

LDCM, the LandSat Data Continuity Mission, is the future of Landsat satellites, and it will continue to obtain valuable data and imagery to be used in agriculture, education, business, science, and government.

AWIPS-II Update (Scheduling), J.C. Duh [(NOAA)]

Dr. Duh. Chief, Program & Plans Division, Office of Science & Technology, NWS discussed the scheduling for the AWIPS-II project. His talk included four main areas: AWIPS II Status, Software Distribution, Extended, and there was additional time for a Q&A session. Operational testing and evaluation (OT&E) is scheduled to begin May 11 and will continue until the product quality is acceptable. At this time functionality and stability are improved. Also at this time there is no impact on the transition from NAIPS to AWIPS-II. The latter will be released to the community when it is 100% field ready.

A preliminary release of AWIPS-II is set for September 2010 and an intermediate version is set for January 2011. Upon request, earlier versions can be made available. The open source has made it possible to remove proprietary data and the contractor has removed copyright markings.

The WES (Weather Event Simulator) is being designed to support NWS training requirements and its development is in progress at this time with a scheduled release of August 2010. An AWIPS-II thin client that will allow remote users to have access to the latest set of AWIPS capabilities. An operational robust infrastructure will support "intelligent" access to non-local datasets.

AWIPS-II will be ready for collaboration and will "support Unidata's mission."


  • There's a question of whether or not Unidata will support the Weather Events Simulator in the future.
  • Some committee members expressed the hope that Unidata will provide support to the WES.

GEMPAK/NAWIPS Migration to AWIPS-II (Michelle Mainelli, NCEP)

As she did at the Users Committee in Boulder a couple of weeks ago, Michelle discussed the status of NAWIPS to AWIPS-II and provided an update on GEMPAK's status.

The migration of NAWIPS to AWIPS-II continues. The project's goal is to have the NCEP Centers fully integrated with the same system used throughout NWS. At NCEP, there are 18.5 engineers with 250 years total of software design and development experience working toward the migration of GEMPAK/NAWIPS to AWIPS-II. The migration will include everything that has been available in NMAP, NSHARP, NWX and NTRANS, along with the GEMPAK legacy command line interface and data decoders.

GEMPAK. V. 6.0 is scheduled for release in the April/May timeframe.Worth noting is that GEMPAK will continue to be supported until a full replacement for it is available.

Michelle's conclusions

  • NC transition highly dependent on Raytheon development
  • GEMPAK support until a full replacement is ready
  • HW configuration finalized June 2010
  • Unidata OT&E involvement will occur early 2011
  • Unidata support of GEMPAK will extend out 18 months after first delivery, now scheduled for spring 2013
    delivery, now scheduled for spring 2013
  • GEMPAK is free to anyone who wants to use it
  • Once NWS has implemented it, AWIPS II will have open software policies


  • The UPC needs to continue its informational news items about AWIPS II and its development and schedules
  • Testing and porting at Unidata has begun and will continue
  • Establishing a developers forum and documentation WIKI is desirable
  • Particularly important is that product quality will not be compromised in the development of AWIPS II

NOAA Climate Services Overview (Chester J. Koblinsky, NOAA)

Dr. Koblinsky provided insight into the development of NOAA's Climate Services program. He documented NOAA's involvement in climate affairs that has included, contributions to IPCC and the development of the USGCRP Global Climate Change Impacts Report, released in 2009. Recognizing that widespread climate-related impacts are occurring now and are expected to increase is a further motivation for developing the Climate Services group.

NOAA's present climate framework was established before climate services were recognized as essential and is not optimized for climate service delivery. To meet the changing and increased demands NOAA will create a framework that will connect users to existing climate products and services while continuing to develop new services. In addition the new frame work will transform current science and data into accessible information, and will actively engage users in service development

To provide leadership in integrating the climate service portfolio, NOAA established six new positions for Regional Climate Services Directors.These directors will draw on NOAA’s agency-wide capabilities to manage and execute the Regional Climate Services Strategic Plan being developed. The six positions will be co-located in NWS regions.

NOAA has created a one-stop access for its climate information at www.climate.gov

NOAA's next steps include stepped up stakeholder engagement, a National Academy of Public Administration study, and reprogramming submission.


  • Committee members wondered if there would be a CONDUIT-like system for climate data delivery
  • Data integrity and data curation were identified as areas of awareness for committee members.
Unidata's Involvement in Developing and Supporting Climate Science Infrastructures (Rew)

Since the early 1990's, Unidata has made important contributions to infrastructure for climate research. Most notable are the development and enhancement of netCDF, now widely used for output from climate models and in climate model intercomparison projects. Contributions to the Climate and Forecast (CF) Conventions have included software that generates and interprets CF-compliant metadata, a draft standard for CF, and draft CF conventions for observational data. Recently Unidata has been pulled into several additional climate infrastructure projects to continue developments in this area.

Making Climate Science Data Available to Other Communities: Standards-based Interoperabilities (Domenico)

Ben's presentation focused on the use of climate data by communities other than the climate science community and by individuals other than climate researchers. The latter includes but is not limited to decision makers, educators, and the general public as well. Noting that other communities, most specifically, the GIS community view data in different ways, he explained that GIS educators and researchers view data in a two-dimensional or flat perspective and as a set of features, roads, lakes and the like while the fluid communities (and this would include climatologists) view data as parameters in space and time. Ben noted that each community is making progress in understanding the other.

Unidata's Role in Climate Education, Research, and Services (Ramamurthy)

Present for this discussion were several NSF/OGS managers: Eric T. DeWeaver, Liming Zhou, Brad Smull, Anjuli S. Bamzai, Peter Milne

We need to start a dialog with the committee and NSF/AGS on this topic. We expect that NOAA and other agencies, and universities will partner with us in this effort.

Noting that the climate community consistently has been a beneficiary of Unidata's support of the meteorology community, now seems to be the time to single it out. The reasons for this are many, but its emergence as a societal issue is an outstanding driver, and NSF's climate initiatives as detailed in Dear Colleague Letter: Climate, Energy, and Sustainability. Five program solicitations are detailed in the letter: Water Sustainability and Climate, Ocean Acidification, Climate Change Education Partnership, Decadal and Regional Climate Prediction Using Earth System Models, and Dimensions of Biodiversity. Unidata's cyberinfrastructure and data services might support each (or any one) of these. To facilitate the development of climate study NSF has initiated the SEES (Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability) portfolio. In addition to this, NASA and NOAA both are engaging in increased climate study development.

A convincing case for Unidata's working with these groups on climate study development can be made, and that case includes Unidata's brand name, customers, technology, and objectives in common.


  • Committee members wondered about Unidata's "branding;" specifically whether or not it would be advantageous to put the name "Unidata" before each product's name, e.g., Unidata LDM.

Network of Networks (Curtis Marshall [NWS], Office of Science and Technology)

This summary of this item is being postponed

Unidata Survey Discussion (Whittaker)

A community survey will be conducted by the Users Committee. Its goals are characterizing our community, determining Unidata's impact, reviewing outcomes from Unidata activity, and determining trends so that accurate decisions on future efforts undertaken by the program.

Six members for a survey sub-committee were named during the Users Com meeting. Additionally, both the Users and Policy Committees have asked to review the survey before it is circulated to the community via the "all-community" e-mail list. The survey will be ready for User Com review by the time of its October meeting. Policy Committee suggestions included:

  • Include question(s) on the use of climate data and analysis, and climate education
  • Consider asking about "terrestrial ecology" (this term came up in the meeting and I still don't know what it really encompasses)
  • Suggest using a "test group" before mass mailing to assess the suitability of the questions, and whether the results might actually be meaningful
  • Suggest limiting the distribution to non-netcdf users, since this group is very large, and not so much of interest to NSF
  • Recognize that Unidata is a "community of communities", and limit the distribution to a few that are important to AGS -- what groups are relevant?
  • Liked the idea of a multi-tiered approach to make some short, others more in depth -- basically pick a few "paths" that are followed depending on responses to questions.
  • Cliff suggested that Unidata could also have "continuous input" by setting up a quick 2-3 questions with each download of Unidata software (he said a "pop up" is common and probably would be easy to implement).
  • Another suggestion was to conduct a separate survey of select group of people (and corporations) involved early in Unidata -- perhaps phone calls as was done in the "Metrics Assessment" conducted in 2006 by an independent contractor.
  • Include the Oceans community

Wrap up

In concluding the meeting the committee reviewed and refined the action items:

  1. In addition to an NREL representative to speak to the committee about renewable energy, the UPC should invite a representative from the private sector. Greg Poulos (V-bar LLC) was mentioned as a possible candidate.
  2. For the fall meeting the UPC should endeavor to hold a portion of the meeting at NOAA/ESRL.
  3. An AWIPS II demo will be presented at the fall meeting. Michelle Mainelli (NCEP) will make the presentation.
  4. Policy committee members are urged to submit possible candidates from the climate science community when the UPC makes the call for nominations for new governing committee members.
  5. Explore the possibility of branding Unidata products: e.g. Unidata netCDF to raise their visibilility Report back to the committee requested.
  6. Invite Dave Schimel to speak about NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network) at the fall meeting in Boulder.
  7. Invite Andy Jacobson, ESRL, to speak about the carbon cycle at the fall meeting.


The meeting adjourned at 11:30.

Please direct comments and questions to lmiller@unidata.ucar.edu