International Activities and Collaborators

Status Report: October 2011 - March 2012

Tom Yoksas

Strategic Focus Areas

The Group Name group's work supports the following Unidata funding proposal focus areas:

  1. Broadening participation and expanding community services
    By informing the international atmospheric science community of the products, data and services available in the Unidata Program, an extended community has been enabled.
  2. Developing and deploying useful tools
    The majority of tools downloadable from Unidata are available free-of-charge to everyone (the exception being McIDAS-X).
  3. Enhancing user support services
    Activities of the Unidata Program Center are routinely provided to the worldwide atmospheric science community. Strategic partnerships with leading organizations in other countries minimize the impact on UPC staff.
  4. Promoting diversity by expanding opportunities
    Non-U.S. users of products available from Unidata reflect, in a number of cases, minority constituencies in the U.S. atmospheric science community.

International Activities Since the Last Status Report

Unidata's Africa-related international outreach activities have largely focused on its role in the UCAR Africa Initiative (AI) which is on a no-cost extension of is award). The following are some highlights of this activity:

  • The IDV is being used to generate displays of forecast relative humidity that is created using TIGGE ensemble data from ECMWF (via the NCAR/CISL TIGGE repository). The IDV displays include:


    • Areal distribution of the 50% quartile for RH (which means that each point in the RH field has a 50% probability of being that value or less).

      These products are stored as animated GIFs and individual frames of the animated GIFs and made available through RAMADDA on motherlode:


      Motherlode Data Server

      RAMADDA Data Repository

          Projects -> Africa Initiative -> Data -> Weather Forecast

            -> Areal Coverage

            -> Timeseries


    • probe timeseries plots of QC25, QC50, and QC75 fields for districts (a district is a subdivision of a region which is like a U.S. state) in a select set of countries (Benin, Cote D'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Niger, Nigeria, Tchad, and Togo) that are located in the meningitis belt (which is roughly the Sahel) in Africa.


      The locations for the probe time series plots are determined by meningitis cases that are reported by the national health service of each country.


      Each Thursday, some UCAR AI participants (Tom Hopson NCAR/RAL, Raj Pandya UCAR/Spark, and/or Mukul Tewari NCAR/RAL) participate in a conference call with WHO, U Lancaster, and African nation stake holders to discuss the forecast of meningitis cases for the upcoming 1-4 weeks (focusing on the next and second weeks).


      NB: IDV Development efforts by Yuan were needed to be able to programatically change the location of the probe so that time series plots can be made for the desired districts.


  • The next stage of work in Unidata includes automating the generation of the displays upon receipt of a new forecast file produced in RAL (by Tom Hopson).


    There are a number of challenges left to be overcome in automating the product generation process:


    • Some of the challenges reside in the programmatic use of the IDV


      Yuan has been very helpful in making changes/additions to the IDV to enable this. Don Murray has also been contributing expertise to help Yuan in his efforts.


    • Others reside in the use of RAMADDA to serve display products to the Google Earth/Maps interface that Arnaud Dumont has been creating for the project (this display is what the AI is proposing as an easy to use Decision Support System (DSS)).


      Jeff McWhirter has been incredibly helpful in making enhancements to RAMADDA.


    • Still others reside in scraping human-generated documents to get the list of districts for which probe time series plots should be generated.


      The issue is that the sort of information being made available to folks reading MS excel spreadsheets or MS word documents needs to be turned into machine-readable documents that can be used in the product generation workflow.


  • One of the next steps in the effort is the transfer of technologys used in the various facets of RH forecasts to ACMAD which is located in Niamey, Niger.


    We have had one telecon with the folks in ACMAD to discuss the transfer of what is being done in UCAR to ACMAD... they are onboard in principle.


    At some point in the not too distant future, a small number of the UCAR AI participants (e.g., Tom Hopson, Arnaud Dumont (NCAR/RAL) and I) will need to travel to ACMAD to review their current computing and network capabilities and agree on a way forward.


Other activities of note include:

  • Data from UCAR GOES East/West/South ingest systems have been routinely accessed by international users in North, Central and South America using McIDAS-X, IDV, and McIDAS-V.
  • Use of Unidata tools, especially netCDF and the IDV, continues to grow internationally.
  • IDD-Brazil continues to expand in Africa.