International Activities and Collaborations

Status Report: April 2014 - September 2014

Tom Yoksas

Strategic Focus Areas

The International Activities and Collaboration group's work supports the following Unidata funding proposal focus areas:

  1. Develop and provide open-source tools for effective use of geoscience data
    The majority of tools downloadable from Unidata are available free-of-charge to everyone (the exception being McIDAS-X).
  2. Provide cyberinfrastructure leadership in data discovery, access, and use
    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.
  3. Build, support, and advocate for the diverse geoscience community
    By informing the international atmospheric science community of the products, data and services available in the Unidata Program, an extended community has been enabled.
    Non-U.S. users of products available from Unidata reflect, in a number of cases, minority constituencies in the U.S. atmospheric science community.

Activities Since the Last Status Report

There are no significant new activities since the last status report.

The UCAR African Initiative transfer of technologies developed during the Google-funded Meningitis project to the African Centre of Meteorological Application for Development (ACMAD) continues at a low level.

Prior International Activities

Unidata's Africa-related international outreach activities have largely focused on its role in the UCAR Africa Initiative (AI) which officially ended on April 15. The UPC is currently involved in transfer of technologies developed during the UCAR Africa Initiative project to the African Centre of Meteorological Application for Development (ACMAD) which is located in Niamey, Niger. The following are some highlights of the UPC's involvement in the UCAR Africa Initiative:

  • The IDV was used to generate displays of forecast relative humidity that is created using TIGGE ensemble data from ECMWF (via the NCAR/CISL TIGGE repository). The 2013 products and data being made available in the RAMADDA instance on can be found in:

    Motherlode Data Server

    RAMADDA Data Repository

        Projects -> Africa Initiative -> Data -> 2013 Prediction Exercise
          -> Areal Coverage
          -> Timeseries
          -> TIGGE Model Ensembles

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

      These products have been stored as animated GIFs, individual frames of the animated GIFs, and week 1 and 2 averages.

    • 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, Burkina Faso, Cote D'Ivoire, Nigeria, Senegal, 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 attack rates (number of new cases per week normalized by population) that are reported by the national health service of each country.

    • Also made available were the RH and quantile regression fields (in netCDF format) that are created from ECMWF ensembles that are part of TIGGE.

    Every other Thursday UCAR/NCAR AI team members (Tom Hopson NCAR/RAL, Raj Pandya formerly of UCAR/Spark, and/or Arnaud Dumont NCAR/RAL) participated in conference calls 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).

  • The final stage of AI work in Unidata included automating the generation of display products upon receipt of a new forecast file produced in RAL (by Tom Hopson).

    There were a number of challenges that had to be overcome to automate the product generation process:

    • The programmatic use of the IDV

      Yuan was 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.

    • Use of RAMADDA to serve display products to the African Decision Information System (ADIS) interface that Arnaud Dumont (NCAR/RAL) created for the project.

      Jeff McWhirter (NASA, UNAVCO) readily implemented enhancements to RAMADDA for this task.

    • 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.

Other activities of note:

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