Unidata Policy Committee

14-15 May 2012

Meeting Attendees

Members UPC Staff

Steven Businger, Chair, Univ of Hawaii
Dave Dempsey, San Francisco State Univ
Bill Gallus, Iowa State Univ
Kevin Kloesel, Univ of Oklahoma
Gary Lackmann, North Carolina State Univ
Kerstin Lehnert, Columbia Univ
Jim Steenburgh, Univ of Utah

Ethan Davis
Ben Domenico
Ginger Emery
Linda Miller
Terry Mitchell
Russ Rew


Agency Representatives
Bernard Grant, (NSF/AGS)
Cliff Jacobs, (NSF, EarthCube-invited presentation)
Peter Griffith, (NASA), (via conference call)
Leroy Spayd, (NOAA/NWS)

UCP/NCAR Representatives
Vanda Grubisic, NCAR/EOL
Hanne Mauriello, UCP
Tim Spangler, UCP/COMET
Mohan Ramamurthy, UCP/Unidata
Users Committee Representative

Michael Morgan, NSF/GEO/AGS
David Verardo, NSF/GEO/AGS

Tom Whittaker (Users Committee Chair)  

Meeting Agenda
Meeting Presentations
Meeting Actions

Monday 14 May 2012

Administrative Items: Businger

The summary from the previous meeting was adopted. Review of the Action Items with discussion about Action 2: Create a WRF subcommittee (Gary Lackmann, Bill Gallus, Brian Colle) to articulate problems that Unidata could potentially help solve.

Gary's vision of how Unidata can contribute includes continued efforts to collaborate with the WRF group.  Major contributions could include a "universal data format converter", resources to deal with very large data sets, and stronger integration with existing efforts at NCAR/DTC.  For example, the DTC-developed Model Evaluation Toolkit (MET) package could better integrate with Unidata software, and this would make it more accessible to the academic community.  Similarly, DART and the climate modeling communities at NCAR could better integrate.

Discussion: Can the UPC play a role in increasing the level of model expertise on the staff? The UPC could help by making existing NCAR-developed data assimilation and model evaluation packages more accessible.   Ultimately, there may be ways to utilize technology to visualize and even "steer" a model simulation while the model runs.

The UPC has been collaborating with the WRF support group at NCAR. In fact, there is a two hour slot of time for UPC's IDV to be featured at the upcoming WRF workshop. The IDV is the 3rd most requested tool within the WRF community. DART does not interface with netCDF. Additional discussion later.

Question about ACTION 3: Consider the opportunity for voluntary afternoon meetings with individual UPC staff, with advance scheduling.

Other action items were completed. The summary and actions items were approved.

The next Policy Committee meeting will be a joint meeting with the Users Committee. Meeting dates will be 18-19 September. The Unidata Users Committee will meet 17-18 September with the 18th being the date for the joint session.

Users Committee Report - Tom Whittaker provided the Users Committee report from the 2-3 April 2012 meeting. The Users Committee meeting was a busy one with many topics covered. One of the biggest surprises was the announcement by Michelle Mainelli that GEMPAK (the functional part) will continue to be supported by NCEP. Other activities and tasks covered during the meeting were:

Director's Report - Mohan Ramamurthy

The UPC is fully staffed, although the core funding does not support 25 staff members, so some are on term appointments. We must seek additional funding to retain staff. Other highlights include:

Budget Report Summary - Terry Mitchell

Lasting attrition has been the key component of the budget picture for the past two years and continued to play a big part of the budget for FY12.  With labor costs and the associated overhead accounting for 88% of the total budget, the long stretch of vacant positions, although a strain on the program, reflected favorably on the financial picture for FY12.  The decrease in both the benefit and indirect rates from FY11 was also beneficial for the budget.   Along with new funds for the first year of the OPULS project, we were able to leverage our surplus of funds from these combined factors to add two new positions as well as fill two replacement positions in FY12, which made us fully staffed for the first time in over two years.  We erased our deficit spending in the core which has positioned us well to take on the projected level funding of FY12 and FY13.  Despite the surplus of funds we are continuing our efforts to increase non core funding with more proposal submissions and white papers to various funding opportunities.  Those efforts are paying off as evidenced by a 98% increase in non core funding for FY12.

We will continue to leverage our resources with new projects and funding as appropriate to weather these challenging economic times.  The financial outlook for FY13 is uncertain, but with the surplus created this year, along with our carryover, we are in a good financial position to meet the goals set forth in the 2013 proposal as well as start looking ahead toward the new 2018 proposal.

NSF Report - Bernard Grant

NSF-GEO 2013 funding in the President's request 2.4% above 2012
2.1% increase for AGS
Lots of increases to OOI (Ocean Observatories Initiative) $65M
EarthCube Seeking transformative concepts and approaches to create integrated data management infrastructures across the Geosciences. GEO is contributing $25M
SEES (Science Engineering & Education for Sustainability) To advance science, engineering, and education to inform the societal actions needed for environmental and economic sustainability and sustainable human well-being. investment - $70.75M
CIF21 (Cyberinfrastructure for the 21st century): EarthCube is GEO's contribution to CIF21
CREATIV (Creative Research Awards for Transformative Interdisciplinary Ventures): a pilot grant mechanism under the Integrated NSF Support Promoting Interdisciplinary Research and Education (INSPIRE) initiative, to support bold interdisciplinary projects in all NSF-supported areas of science, engineering, and education research. (million dollar award up to 5 yrs-$5M for 2013)
SAVI-Science Across Vitual Institutes-is an innovative concept to foster interaction among scientists, engineers and educators around the globe.
OneNSF-summit today and NSF director wants to promote international activities

NOAA Report - Leroy Spayd

NASA Report - Peter Griffith - provided a presentation remotely.

Peter discussed the Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE) that has been proposed as a NASA-sponsored field campaign. Climate change in the Arctic and Boreal Region (ABR) is unfolding faster than anywhere else on Earth, causing warming and thawing of permafrost, increases in the frequency and severity of disturbances, and widespread changes to surface water and vegetation. NASA is hoping to leverage and coordinate with other agencies on this project. (see slides for additional details)

AWIPS II and Unidata - Linda Miller

Linda provided an update on the AWIPS II status at Unidata. Michael James is working on condensing ~1400 pages of documentation from Raytheon to something more manageable for the Unidata community. Two test sites have been identified and will begin testing very soon. Jeff Weber will be working with Michael James to provide assistance to Unidata community users. Unidata is using the "Train the Trainers" approach. We want to use the community support model. Those who go to training can train others. Unidata continues to work closely with NWS and NCEP as progress is made toward eventual release of the software, currently scheduled for Spring 2013. An article on AWIPS II was recently released in NCAR/UCAR's Atmos News by Bob Henson.

AWIPS II status from NCEP and NWS AWIPS Program Office - Michelle Mainelli, Ronla Henry and Ed Mandell

Highlights include:

ACTION: Unidata and NOAA (NWS and NCEP) should communicate the fact that GEMPAK is not going away and a "future of GEMPAK" article or slide should be added to Unidata's AWIPS II information, including an article on current status of AWIPS II, including NCP. Doug Dirks, Michael James and Linda Miller should work with Michelle on this action.


Space Weather data will be added to AWIPS II. Two contractors will be hired at NCEP related to Space Weather forecasting.

Ed Mandel is the development manager. Ed will send a link to user manuals, system maintenance manual, system subsystem design documents.

Question of training –

1. COMET will work with Unidata to investigate the impacts of no AWIPS funding to COMET to support the Antennas and downlink and the impact on Unidata if these and the COMET support staff were to go away.
2. The Committee expressed it's concern about the validity of the parameter calculations in AWIPS2 and questioned whether they will be validated against GEMPAK, like AWIPS program did when AWIPS 1 was deployed.
3. The Committee noted how an online performance support capability should be added to AWIPS2 so small learning module objects could be easily available for the forecasters and students.

A Windows version of D2D, demo by Rhonla-SilverSpring is where data is fully functional in the CAVE version. The thin client could be the answer to many places in smaller areas that are not covered.

There are no restrictions on map projections.

First quarter 2013-ready with thin client (CAVE running on EDEX server) end of calendar year, documentation will be done.

Actionable Strategic Plan Discussion - Mohan

Mohan presented the draft actionable strategic plan. We want to share what we are doing, so we have some tools in mind for facilitating transparency.

Action Plan slides used by Mohan.

Tools such as Jira and RedMine should help. We do status reports, make information available on the web site for all projects, use FaceBook and Twitter, along with a Unidata blog to provide the latest information on Unidata activities.

Blue Sky session - All

Unidata needs to do something transformative for the next five-year proposal.

Proposal development topics discusssed by Mohan were:

  1. Unidata is coming up on a renewal of the 5-year core-funding award in Fall 2013
  2. Need to begin the planning process now as it usually takes about a year to do every needed.
  3. Assumption: Unidata can once again submit an unsolicited proposal.
  4. Need to work with NSF in submitting an unsolicited proposal and get a waiver for the 15-page limit.
  5. The past two 5-year proposals were guided to a significant degree by the strategic plans.
  6. In addition to excellent, new ideas and a solid plan, the UPC will need to gather a lot of material to include in the proposal.
    1. Extensive metrics
    2. Usage and impact stories
    3. Letters of collaboration
  7. In addition to the UPC staff, the committees will need to be involved in the development of the proposal.
  8. Proposal will include both ongoing activities (advancements)  and new areas to pursue
  9. Need input on:
    1. Proposal ideas
    2. Suggestions for engaging the committees
    3. Ideas for engaging the community – e.g., community needs?
  10. Some new ideas that have been written into the strategic plan include:
    1. Dealing with “big data” – access, processing, analysis, and visualization
    2. Ensemble model analysis and visualization
    3. Server-side processing, including cloud computing
    4. Visualization on mobile devices via thin clients, using HTML5, WebGL, etc.
    5. Helping faculty PIs to address NSF’s Data Management Plan requirements via templates, tools, technologies, guides and guidances, workshops,  etc. – Facilitating Data Publication
    6. Relationships with other cyberinfrastructure initiatives like CIF21, EarthCube, BIGDATA, DIBBS,
  11. Budget realities
    1. Temporary hiccups or new norms?

Planning for the joint meeting in September will include:

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

EarthCube - Cliff Jacobs

EarthCube is progressing well and has about 900 members tuning into the web site . So far the following awards have been made:

Several NSF staff are participating and another Charette is being planned for June 12-14 at the Keybridge Marriott in Rosslyn, with the promise of additional awards to be made soon. Expectations are that 150 people may attend the Charette. The objective is to integrate the efforts with the outcome of roadmaps. The hope is to transform practices within the geosciences community spanning over the next decade to provide unprecedented new capabilities to researchers and educators. This would vastly improve the productivity of community research on the Earth system and provide a knowledge management framework for the geosciences.

CIF21 builds national infrastructure for science and education contributions from GEO and Cyber infrastructure. CI was at the table first. Unidata and IRIS have accomplished much of this and international convergence and strategic convergence using "spiral development."

70 expression of interest emails, 12 community groups, providing unprecedented view of the pulse of geosciences community. WebEx has been used for many of the meetings. There have been 60 capabilities determined as what is needed by EarthCube for the Geosciences. There will be more EAGER awards in September-November timeframe.

Funding thus far has been for data brokering, X-Domain interoperability, service based integration, layered architecture, Earth system modeling. The challenge is connecting programs to work closer together.

What about societies? i.e. AMS, AGU, EGU? At this time, societies are not involved, but could be later.

NSF has a data management guideline, but the NSF seems to be lax in enforcement. It seems to be at the discretion of reviewers to decide if it was alright or overlook.
Goals-where does the rubber meet the road-nitty gritty of all about sharing and working together. Question of what happens if people don't play. There will be reasons for them to participate. There will be "Off the shelf" apps, a sense of ownership, some leadership, but not all will be leaders. The input from the community will be important.

Unidata has always kept boundaries constrained.  More funding is needed if we are to serve the large geosciences community. Interoperability is great and can be used by others but UPC should continue serving their own community. Stove pipes are somewhat essential to continue serving the community.

Integrated Earth Data Applications (IEDA_-Kerstin Lehnert

Kerstin gave a presentation on Multi-disciplinary Data Services for the Earth, Ocean and Polar Sciences. The idea is to operate core services of Earth Chem and Marine Geosciences Data System in an integrated approach. They have put in place an Integrated Earth Data Apps governance with focus on solid Earth sensor-based data and derived data and field data. There are 150 types of data and data types, nearly 370,000 files. The system is to establish unique identifiers for the data-a very important effort. The data management plan is being used by 200-300 people. See slides for further details.

Administrative issues: 
Steven reviewed new Action Items and wrap up with the committee.

Comments about the standards, GRIB, and BUFR should be included in the proposal.

Tom Whittaker stresssed the importance of continuing the efforts to author and influence data system standards in natonal and international committee, such as the WMO. This work should be explicitly cited in the action plan and in the next 5-year proposal to NSF.

ACTION – Tom Whittaker will follow developments from the WMO meeting related to GRIB, BUFR and netCDF and provide an update to the committees at the September 2012 meeting.

ACTION: Unidata-CADIS-data translation from data loggers – develop converters to do translation - Mohan suggested a discussion with usercomm and polcomm this issue at the next meeting.

ACTION: Linda will coordinate Unidata Policy Committee meeting next May 2013 at the new NCEP building.

ACTION: Fall meeting discussion about training, related materials, data contributions, upload services.

ACTION: Need to check AWIPS II algorithms for Quality Control (QC)-Rhonla, Ed and Michelle will follow up on this item.

Hurricane force wind fields in mid latitude cyclones and their impact on North Pacific Ocean Environment - Steven Businger

Steven ended the meeting by giving an interesting talk on ships and cargo losses in the Pacific. The statistics were incredible, and the animated slides were amazing.


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