Unidata Strategic Advisory Committee Meeting Summary

22-23 April 2015
Millersville, PA

The meeting summary will be available shortly. Please check back.

Action Items
Committee Members
Acronym List

Committee Members:

Bill Gallus, Iowa State University, Chair
Brian Mapes, University of Miami (Remote)
Lynn McMurdie, University of Washington
Mike Piasecki, City College of New York
Sepi Yalda, Millersville University

Users Committee Representative:

Kevin Tyle, University at Albany

Sponsor Representative:

Bernard Grant, NSF

NASA Representative:

Christopher Lynnes

NOAA Representative:

LeRoy Spayd
Jeff de La Beaujardière (Remote)

UCAR/NCAR Representatives:

Greg Byrd, UCAR/Comet
Vanda Grubišić, NCAR/EOL
Steve Worley, NCAR/CISL

UPC Staff Attending
Ethan Davis
Terry Mitchell
Mohan Ramamurthy
Josh Young
Meeting agenda

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Administrative Items — William Gallus

The Meeting Summary from 8-9 October 2014 was approved.

Review of Actions:

  • Action 1: Materials provided; however, need to follow up with Michael James to confirm this is the appropriate information.
  • Action 2: Complete.
  • Action 3: Complete, no submitted suggestions.
  • Action 4: Complete.
  • Action 5: Consider materials for Summer Training Session. (Suggestion to feature additional related tech at the summer training, could be UCAR products at large.)
  • Action 6: Complete.
  • Action 7: Scope is very broad need some clarification (could be NWS, NESDIS, PMEL) focus on NWS first with survey development work with LeRoy. NWS SOOs are meeting in September so it would be very advantageous to complete it beforehand. Talk to Comet about their class.

The Fall meeting dates, which will be a joint meeting of the committees, are set for September 30-October 2, 2015 at the Unidata Program Center.

Users Committee report — Kevin Tyle

Kevin provided an overview of the spring Users Committee meeting. The summary is available here. Kevin noted that the meeting featured discussion of GFS 1/4 degree grid, the corresponding impact to the community in the data flow, and the best path for releasing this data to the community. (note: 1/4 degree GFS will be released on a trial basis after several weeks of notice with transition support available to sites). The transition will require some top level effort especially in the top level relay sites.

AWIPS II also received significant attention during this meeting. Sam Ng did a phenomenal demonstration by connecting to his server remotely. Michael James is working on a new stable edition and Jeff Weber demonstrated the current stable AWIPS II release operating both EDEX and CAVE on a single laptop. Staff noted that there are some issues with most recent Raytheon version on the install.

ACTION: Share Sam's presentation with SAC (complete) and post on web (pending).

Much of the remainder of the meeting focused on planning for the 2015 Triennial. This event is still pending funding from NSF and first day is two months from today; the focus will be on Big Data, Cloud Computing, Python, Data MGMT. We have a compelling and diverse group of speakers we just need to receive confirmation of funding so that we can actively recruit participants beyond the earlier save-the-date.

Scott Jacobs has been selected as the 2015 DeSouza recipient.

Tom Yoksas highlighted the potential to transition some of the GEMPAK scripting products to a Cloud instance as a means to begin transitioning some Unidata services to that environment. This was suggested as an initial effort because it is not heavily used by the core academic community and does not cause a significant financial burden for Undiata. However, there were questions about how some IDV actions interact and rely upon those products so a transition to the cloud could impact a small number of individuals.

Ryan May provided a brief update regarding Python activities at Unidata. These are not large stand alone projects; however, several staff have python-related or dependent projects on the side. Committee members mentioned the need for a python tool that delivers the scripting functions associated with GEMPAK. Ryan has a project that pre-dates Unidata referred to as a PyMet that works in this space. Committee members requested that Ryan make that project more widely available.

Director's report — Mohan Ramamurthy

Mohan's full presentation is available here.

Additional discussion:

Chris Lynnes: ERAU is a canary in the coal mine for cost, please do an analysis for this cost.

Mohan: Discussion of UCAR cloud, DOC secretary announced partnership between NOAA and major cloud providers.

LeRoy Spayd: Do AWIPS II users want stable versions on a schedule or a new Unidata release for every Raytheon release?

Mohan: People want stable

Mike Piasecki: Could Unidata run EDEX as a server available to the community (not on the cloud)?

Mohan: Yes it is possible that is what we did for the South Florida workshop. We haven't opened it up and announced as available but it is something we want to do in the future. It is a question of just getting it done and moving to the cloud as part of our larger transition.

Budget Report — Terry Mitchell

With the new core award period of performance off six months from the UCAR fiscal year, running April 1 - March 31, the beginning balance of funds are now fully encumbered at the start of each fiscal year. There is very little flexibility in the salary-heavy budget to operate outside of the originally proposed budget. Non-core funding is going to play a big part of the financial picture this year and next as we anticipate level funding for the core again. Three of the four current EarthCube projects end this fiscal year, while two other major non-core projects are also set to end in FY15, although no cost extensions with some carryover are likely for both. The NASA ROSES USGS project is the only current, non-core project with anticipated new funding in FY16 at this point. Without any other new funding in either the core or non core, at our current spend rate, we will be facing a deficit in the core in early 2016. We will carefully monitor the situation and adjust non-labor expenses like travel as necessary. We have also begun to encourage staff to regularly use their PTO, where the funds come from the UCAR benefits pool. We will continue to pursue funding opportunities wherever and whenever possible in an effort to move the program forward while maintaining our current staffing level.

Additional discussion:

Bernard Grant: Question about whether anything carries over?

Terry/Mohan: this is the FY report so some is encumbered this FY and the rest is encumbered next FY.

Discussion of proposal success rate and question of pending proposals (netCDF CF and DIBBS campus infrastructure).

Kevin Tyle: Suggest a strategic outreach to NSF by Unidata staff on semi-regular basis.

NSF Report — Bernard Grant

Bernard's presentation is here.

NASA Report — Chris Lynnes

Chris' presentation is here.

Presentation: Python at Millersville University — Alex DeCaria

Alex provided a demonstration of Python tools used at Millersville.

Presentation: Geopod and IDV — Gary Zoppetti

Gary provided a demonstration of the Geopod project.

NWS Update — LeRoy Spayd

LeRoy's presentation is here.

Additional discussion:

GOES-R now scheduled to launch March 16, 2016.

NOAA PARR Discussion — Jeff De La Beaujardiere

Jeff's presentation is here.

Additional discussion:

Tom Carl from NCDC is now lead for NCEI.

Question about who is included in the article repository requirement. Certainly applies to employees and grantees; however, if partially NOAA funded then it doesn't have to be submitted to both agencies. Should submit to either the larger funder or at least one.

Broadening Unidata Funding — Mohan Ramamurthy, Josh Young


Most substantial issue is the change in staff at NSF; we are very fortunate that we have been supported for 30 years with strong reviews.

Mohan: Recognition may not be the core problem, my intent in suggesting this item is to compliment this NSF funding with NOAA, NASA, etc. There have been a lot of Unidata contributions to NWS; however, there has been very little NWS funding sent to UPC. We can always write grants and will continue to do that but can we establish coop agreements with these other partners.

LeRoy Spayd: Survey is a good step, so part of it is education for the folks under Louis Ucc. POSSIBLE ACTION: Work with LeRoy to schedule visits with NWS folks that control budgets.

Energy provider ex to balance sources

Suggestion of different expense costs for private sector, or online course materials for fee, value in paying minimal amount to continue availability of resources.

Question about use of UPC products/services in aviation or other industries.

Scott Rayder provides the marketing for UCAR, UPC needs some similar function.

Look to new expansionary communities such as ArcGIS.

Consider International opportunities.

Are there plans to bring on a private sector or international representative?

WMO as a connector with other countries.

Adjourn Day 1

Thursday 23 April 2015

Unidata Data Management Resource Center — Josh Young

ACTION: Add use cases or examples to the DMRC, BAMS article, work with Mike Piasecki to publish something in Hydroinformatics.

ACTION: Coordinate call with Doug and Lynn M. to capture data workflow.

Unidata and Computational and Data Literacy — Mohan Ramamurthy

Look into side trip/site visits at AMS, regional workshops, partnering with Software caprentry.

Online training (course, youtube) would be very valuable.

NOTE: Broadcast Sean's Rosetta youtube/screencast.

ACTION/NOTE: Partner with COMET and wider community in pursuing some to develop training on computational/data literacy might be a WMO avenue.

Python, Python, Python would be a priority for any training/resource.

Geoscience data analysis/tools and plotting with Python would be very valuable.

There needs to be use case examples for these Python tools.

Chris Lynnes: Similar to data recipes that we have been working on.

Mohan: Our training on Python focuses on interacting with our tools/services and Python applications.

Discussion of R and strength in statistics, and visualization.

Chris Lynnes: There are two different R netCDF modules. Is Unidata supporting or recommending either?

Ethan Davis: We are not supporting/recommending either module.

Climate community uses R a lot. R is also strong in machine learning. Coursera class on data analytics is all based on R.

Update on Unidata and Earthcube — Mohan Ramamurthy

Unidata is involved with four Earthcube projects.

1) GeoViz: Unavco, IRIS, IEDA all using standards rest based for remote access to data.

The latest and the best have persistent links. GeoVIZ project will be doing a demonstration project at the May AHM.

Chris Lynnes: Is there a service that publishes this URL?

Mohan: It is manually composed.

Chris Lynnes: It would be very valuable to have the building of a URL as a service. You have the form fields filled out and then automagically build a URL for the server specified.

Possible ACTION: This project is focused on documenting the REStful API but maybe Talk about this automation would be a good topic for ESIP IT&I.

2) Another project focused on ODSIP capabilities: OPENDAP group has done some stuff on this recently; Dennis has worked with them. Ryan M has been engaged to discuss Python application. This is a follow on to OPULS and the associated development of the protocol.

3) Collaboration with UTX (David Maidment) waterML was an early outcome though now it has morphed into NFIE.

All three projects expiring at the end of August.

4) Second year EC project with George MU to deploy Unidata products/services hosted in the cloud for community use. Project has had a slow start with no data flowing yet, but the server is getting built. For that project we won't see results for some time. That project will end 9/1/16.

5th-Pending) We also submitted a proposal last month to the 4th amendment (4th solicitation). The focus of this amendment was integrative activities with Unidata submitting a proposal focused on standards in particular broadening netcdf cf.

EarthCube might want to step back and think about the intent.

Chris Lynnes: Have they developed measures of success?

Mohan: These are on the agenda to be developed.

AWIPS II update — Josh Young

The committee discussed the status and timing of the upcoming RFP from NOAA, along with Unidata's possible participation.

Scoping for fall meeting session on Python and visualizations at Unidata (AWIPS II, GEMPAK, IDV) — Josh Young

IDV, VizAD are not widely used outside of the community so how do we consider the update and maintenance of these things into the future.

For Python and visualization, do we focus on data back end tools, python tools on the front end for user interface, and the maintenance of IDV.

Sharppy is a python version of NSharp still very much beta but operates on many systems.

AWIPS II lacks the hovmöller or 3D visualization.

Initial step might be to release a small python "IDV" that folks can add to if it gets traction.

Chris Lynnes: GRADS is another model, they made a version called OpenGRADS melding it with python and once it was open there was 2 or 3 people that ran with it.

Ethan Davis: NCL also has a python wrapper.

Problem with Jython is that cannot leverage all of the Python libraries (actually often originally C).

IDV in python would need to capture good 3d visualization.

Economics of Cloud Computing — Mohan Ramamurthy

The role of a buffer computer is to always have the fresh data drawn down from the cloud so that the stuff in most demand will be available locally.

EU looking into turning their HPC (or a piece of it) into a cloud/computational data center.

Additional Disucssion

Feedback on the format of the Committee:

  • Consider using other formats for small sections of the meeting
  • Action: Schedule a 3 months into the meeting Committee Chair call.
  • ACTION: Note to consider side meeting with universities as part of regional workshops or other unidata travel.

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