Unidata Users Committee Meeting Summary

9-10 October 2008
Boulder , Colorado


Members Attending

Gary Lackmann, North Carolina State Univ, Chair
Sean Arms, Univ of Oklahoma
Eugene Cordero, San Jose State Univ
Brian Etherton, UNC-Charlotte
Bill Gallus, Iowa State Univ
Chris Herbster, Embry Riddle Aeronautical Univ
Brendon Hoch, Plymouth State Univ
Larry Oolman, Univ of Wyoming
Leigh Orf, Central Michigan Univ
Scott Rochette, Suny College at Brockport
Technical Rep:
Tom Whittaker, SSEC - Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison

UPC Staff Attending

Tina Campbell
John Caron
Ethan Davis
Ben Domenico
Steve Emmerson
Ginger Emery
Jo Hansen
Dennis Heimbigner
Michael James
Yuan Ho
Robb Kambic

Jeff McWhirter
Terry Mitchell
Linda Miller
Don Murray
Jennifer Oxelson
Mohan Ramamurthy
Russ Rew
Jeff Weber
Tom Yoksas

Please Note:  Proposed spring meeting 6-7 April 2009

Acronym List

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Meeting Agenda
Meeting Action Items

Administrative Items:

Brief discussion of face-to-face versus virtual meetings once/year. The carbon footprint is an issue that members are concerned about, but the face-to-face meetings for overall Users Committee meetings are very important, due to the interactions that take place among the members and staff. When sub-committees are created, virtual meetings work well and have been used many times, i.e., workshop planning sub-committee. The IDV steering committee uses virtual meetings exclusively, and it works for them.

Review of Action Items-10-11 April 2008

PolComm Resolutions

This item will carry over for the next meeting. The Users Committee is not familiar with all EPA data and wanted additional information.

The Users Committee could solicit information from various people about the air quality data. Possible contacts mentioned were Sean's advisor at OU, Perry Samson, Univ of Michigan, Jennie Moody, Univ of Virginia, John Merrill, Univ of Rhode Island. Anton might be able to obtain additional information from Rudy Husar, Washington Univ and a member of the Policy Committee.
(this action is carried over to the April meeting)

Russ Rew mentioned a presentation on GEMS Earth system monitoring for air-chemistry to improve medium range forecasting from satellite. This includes CO2, ozone, greenhouse gases, etc. Russ will send information to the committee.

Director's Report - Ramamurthy

Highlights from Mohan's presentations:


NetCDF has a major upgrade that uses HDF-5 format to read and write files through the netCDF API allowing many features, including compression, parallel I/O, user-defined data types, etc. Publication quality graphics is now available in the IDV, due to VisAD work accomplished at Australian BOM.

Focused discussion:

IDV steering committee wants to know what users are doing with GARP and GEMPAK. The community should create mini-case studies based on their use of NMAP and/or GARP. Two new IDV steering committee members are being sought, with GEMPAK skills preferred.

It was suggested that an overlap of support for GEMPAK after first release of AWIPS-II to Unidata community is necessary. There is a concern of AWIPS-II support for Linux only and the graphics card required to run it.

Action:  Each committee member was asked to write up a “user story” for N-AWIPS usage at their institution in order to help identify important functionality that must be replicated in future software.

Ideally, this type of input would be welcome from the community. This information will be helpful to developers.

Action:  Assemble a N-AWIPS transition FAQ and fact-summary web page to get details out to the community.  This is along the lines of what was suggested by panel report.  The timing for this will be after the Polcomm meeting.

Community Characterization

A discussion on what information should be collected from the database evolved. The Users Committee has a role to inform the characterization.  Usercomm has done periodic surveys—had to capture the impact of unidata (done by external assessment)—survey by phone, online – gather information—cosmic data, GEMPAK,
Overall survey would gather information on needs of community; data, tools and software—we’ve done targeted surveys, but this is an overall survey.

Action: A sub-committee was formed, consisting of Eugene Cordero, Brian Etherton, Jen Oxelson and Linda Miller.  The purpose of this committee will be to re-visit periodic surveys to the community

Status Reports:


The GEMPAK and one of the McIDAS workshops were canceled, due to low numbers of registrations (especially pertaining to edu's). The IDV now reads GEMPAK gridded files. Tom Whittaker is looking for two IDV task force volunteers (GEMPAK users) to provide one-on-one feedback to IDV developers. This usually requires a two hour conference call once every 6 months or so.

2009 Triennial Summer Users Workshop Discussion

Greg Byrd, COMET, participated during the workshop discussion, in case there’s a way for COMET and Unidata to collaborate.  The NSF Facilities Users Workshop- 15-17 June 2009 is being planned by NSF, NCAR, Univ of Wyoming, Colorado State Univ, Center for Severe Weather Research. The dates for the Unidata Users Summer Workshop are 8-12 June.

Discussion among the group, rendered the title of, “Using Operational and Experimental Observations in Geoscience Education” with the goal of providing and collecting information for teaching. The goals should be connected to Unidata.

There will be three co-chairs for the workshop. They include:

Sean Arms, student representative, Univ of Oklahoma
Brian Etherton, UNC-Charlotte
Larry Oolman, Univ of Wyoming

An important aspect of the workshop will be to obtain agreement among participants and presenters to share their presentations and materials in advance, and to be ready to include in a web site to share with others. Several computers will be needed, similar to the 2006 workshop. Sessions discussed were:

Remote Sensing
Use of operational data
Comet-NPOESS, current and future

Field Experiments
Storm Chasing
Hurricane hunters

Climate data
Urban effects
Ice cores

Build instrument
Data collection
Air Quality

Data Assimilation
VAR schemes
Hurricane hunters

(NOTE:  VORTEX2 is going on in May 2009 for 6 weeks)


Timeframe: Labs versus talks, presentations, panels, breakout sessions (what have we learned, how to use the data). A poster session should be organized and integrated into the workshop.

Panel discussion could be used for the wrap up—how to pull everything gleaned from workshop together

Sub-committee members:  Eugene Cordero, Gary Lackmann, other UPC staff

Action:  Workshop Proposal -  Plan to complete by December

Action: Update site contact list with Unidata information

Action: UPC should create a one-page workshop flyer to be distributed during the AMS meeting in Phoenix.

Workshop announcements should also be made at the Student and IIPS sessions, if possible.

Action:  Larry Oolman will discuss EOL coordination and get back to us with additional information.

DeSouza Award

DeSouza Award - It's almost time to send out a request for DeSouza Award nominations. This is a prestigious award and the community should rally to nominate people from the community. The winner will be invited to next fall's Users Committee meeting to do a Users Committee presentation on her/his use of Unidata products. The presentation will be Webcast to the community.

Site Contact Reports:

Action:  Unidata will mine the data base to see if we can  improve our characterization of users.

New IDV Features-Murray

The following features were demonstrated:

The above features were added in response to suggestions made by the GEMPAK community. Features of version 2.6 are always available in the nightly builds. A suggestion posed by Gary that smoother contours like GEMPAK/GARP should be considered for IDV. Don noted that the user has control over the objective analysis parameters to create smoother contours and that plans for smoothing functions like GEMPAK has are on the IDV development "to do" list. There was a question of scripting capabilities, but that feature is available, and it is well documented. IDV developers are very reactive to community input.  Be sure to provide questions or suggestions to them!

RAMADDA-McWhirter and Weber - (Repository for Archiving, Managing and Accessing Diverse DAta) - McWhirter provided a demo of RAMADDA, and Weber showed how case studies can be created using the RAMADDA and THREDDS Data Repository infrastructure.

The UserComm viewed several of these new functions very favorably, such as high-resolution graphics output and objective analysis in the IDV.  The ability to access online historical case studies via the RAMADDA framework is truly outstanding, and the committee was very much in favor of continuing this direction.


Discussion of the CONDUIT feed:  There is a consensus that adding the SREF and RTMA would be very useful. 

Regarding quantification of CONDUIT feed usage- It was pointed out (Caron) that  IDV users are using CONDUIT data, but are not getting the feed themselves.  So, use exceeds what one would conclude from the feed alone.

Action:  Newsletter article on CONDUIT?

Action:  Find out what the differences are (if any) between CONDUIT and NOAAPORT 1 degree data

This difference could be inclusion of data above the 100 mb level, which is important for model initialization

Action:  Yoksas:  Draft letter regarding what data will be removed and data to be included. Send to UserComm first, then to CONDUIT list

NCEP Moratorium on changes begins 17 Dec, with the last date for Request for Changes is 20 November, so changes must be in requested soon


A Unidata Web page will be created and the Web site will provide the WSI conditions of use. These are very similar to the current conditions for the NLDN. An "educommunity" email will be sent to provide information on the data set. There will also be an E-letter article written about the new data availability.

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