Unidata Users Committee Meeting Summary


9-10 November 2000

Boulder, Colorado


Members: UPC Staff:
Rich Clark, Millersville Univ, Chair (term extended) John Caron
Bill Fingerhut, Lyndon State College Steve Chiswell
Arlene Laing, Univ of South Florida Ethan Davis
Michael Morgan, Univ of Wisconsin Ben Domenico
Larry Riddle, Univ of Calif-San Diego Steve Emmerson
Tony Rockwood, Metropolitan State College (term extended) Dave Fulker
Clint Rowe, Univ of Nebraska-Lincoln Joanne Graham
James Steenburgh, Univ of Utah Jo Hansen
Doug Yarger, Univ of Iowa Robb Kambic
  Linda Miller
  Don Murray
  Russ Rew
Ex-Officio Members: Jeff Weber
Charlie Murphy, Kean Univ-PolComm Rep Donna West
Tom Whittaker, Univ of Wis-Madison, ATAC Stu Wier
  Anne Wilson
  Tom Yoksas


Thursday, 9 November

Administrative Matters


The importance of collecting IDD statistics from all sites was emphasized.

Action 1: Robb Kambic and Jeff Weber will contact the sites that are not providing the stats to assist them in setting up the collection at their site. They will report to the UserComm at the next meeting on success.

Director's Report


Metadata is an important component in the success of the THREDDS concept. It was suggested that a quality control requirement be defined, but the integrity of the original "raw" data is important too. Consider prioritization of long-term usage, e.g., field projects, climate, etc.

Action 2: Domenico will check the NASA digital earth and the NASA/TRMM project about lessons learned in metadata standards.

The Users Committee felt that the THREDDS project is very important to the community. This importance is affirmed in the following resolution:

Resolution to the Unidata Policy Committee:

The growth in both the volume and number of data resources in the atmospheric and related sciences imposes challenges in data distribution by existing methods. The availability of data for all of the WSR-88D radars is one example of these expanding resources. The Unidata Users Committee recognizes the need for new data access and distribution methodologies and believes the concept of Thematic Realtime Earth Data Distribution Servers (THREDDS) offers a viable solution to data access in an environment of growing resources.

The Unidata Users Committee urges the Unidata Policy Committee to consider the development of THREDDS as an important future direction for the Unidata Program and further to encourage the National Science Foundation to provide support for the development and implementation of this technology within the Unidata community.

WSR-88D Data Access

There are two parts to the discussion of WSR-88D data.

  1. The NIDS-type products will become freely available via NOAAPort in January 2001. Unidata is planning to include the data in the IDD distribution. Planning is underway to establish procedures for sites to utilize the data.
  2. The CRAFT project is progressing toward the availability of Level II (base) 88D data. Unidata has been a collaborator in the planning of CRAFT.

In response to Actions 1-3 from the June 2000 meeting, several ideas were exchanged.

Action 3: Anne Wilson will take the lead in conducting a test to distribute the NIDS (Level III) products made available (for testing purposes) from the NWS via NOAAPort. The test will be performed between Unidata and a site to send data and to evaluate the first and second tier results. Test results will be provided to the Users Committee for review by Thanksgiving (November 23, 2000).

Disk limitations could restrict the ability of some sites to file all the data. This will be a consideration when performing the test.

Floaters for combinations of the 88D sites will be explored. This will include the notion of setting up self-determined floaters, regional floaters, and subscription to floater sites.

Action 4: A communication, from the Users Committee, will be provided to the Unidata community about planning and implementation procedures needed to use the 88D data from NOAAPort in January 2001. This information will include recommendations about ADDE access to data, lack of mosaic (currently provided by WSI), and floater potential.

Difax Issue

Jeff Weber led a discussion about action taken to mitigate the end of Difax service from Alden. Because the NWS is ending the Difax service in April 2001, the Users Committee suggested investigating approaches which would be feasible for the future.


The Users Committee wishes to thank Pete Pokrandt, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dave Fitzgerald, Millersville, Jeff Weber, and Steve Chiswell of Unidata, and others in the community who contributed time and effort toward providing options.

Action 5: Jeff Weber will contact sites with good Internet connectivity about providing backup capabilities to the Wisconsin solution for Difax. This will provide the redundancy needed, should the Wisconsin server go down for maintenance or other reasons.

Participation Policy

Changes in the Unidata Participation Policy were recommended by the Policy Committee. Joanne Graham summarized the changes for the Users Committee. Some highlights include:



The importance of collecting information from the Unidata community was discussed. The UCAR survey conducted recently provided some feedback, but it was on a broader scale. After extensive Users Committee discussion on this topic, it was concluded that two-way communication is very important.

Action 6: A sub-committee consisting of Rich Clark Arlene Laing, Clint Rowe, Tony Rockwood, Michael Morgan, and ex-officio member Charlie Murphy was formed to create a brief set of questions to be used for a community survey.

Action 7: UserComm members will begin a campaign of contacting the Unidata community representatives to survey them with the aforementioned questions. The UserComm will provide a report on this method of community contact at the next Users Committee meeting.

The idea of a continuous survey via the Web Newsletter could be a viable method of collecting timely information. Changes are being made to accommodate this type of service within the Unidata Web.


Don Murray and Charlie Murphy provided a hand-out and presented illustrations and demonstrations of the progress made on four meteorological prototype applications:

Covered were the advances in the underlying fundamentals, communication structure and the collaborations which are evolving from other interested UCAR/NCAR groups and external organizations.

The MetApps task force is using the UMADA interactive Web-based discussion area to provide feedback. It is an iterative process which allows the applications to be built around the users needs. The specs are provided to the developers through the use of "use cases".


Java continues to mature with increased levels of performance. The Java 3D is not yet as portable as hoped, but progress is being made. All platforms support Java 2D.

Workshop BAMS Article from "Shaping the Future.." Workshop

Doug Yarger and Tony Rockwood have already made progress toward the BAMS article. They are working with Dave Dempsey, San Francisco State, Jo Hansen, UPC, and other Users Committee members as needed, to complete the draft article. The article will then be distributed to the Users Committee members for comments.

Unidata Status Reports:


The case study project has received positive feedback and the NWS has funded it for another year. Forecasters are primarily using the netCDF version of the case studies. MetApps wants to make use of the netCDF versions of the case studies.

SuomiNet's first site deployment will occur in January 2001. Deployment is scheduled to be completed by August 2002 . Precipitable Water Vapor products should be available as sites are deployed.

Action 8: An updated map with new SuomiNet sites should be created. The map should depict newly activated or implemented sites. - Jeff Weber

Action 9: Jeff Weber will ask Unavco and GST if the data can be distributed in netCDF.

DODS IDL is now in a usable form. Data reside on the UCAR/NCAR "motherlode" server for DODS. The recent netCDF operators release (by Charlie Zender) makes building the set of tools for NCO easily available for the DODS clients. The Native Windows port (a beta release) is available.

The question of a 24-bit graphics card for use with GEMPAK was discussed. Currently GEMPAK development focused on 8-bit displays. There were 15 attendees in the GEMPAK users workshop this month.

Action 10: Contact Mary desJardins about transitioning or adding the 24-bit capability for GEMPAK - Steve Chiswell

ACARS and AMDARS were discussed. They are viewed as valuable data sets being made freely available for education and research from the Forecast Systems Laboratory, using a point-to-point LDM distribution.

Action 11: Set up a Web page with Unidata sites currently using AMDARS and ACARS so other sites can learn more about the use of the data sets for classroom and research activities - Linda Miller

Action 12: The CONDUIT project and associated datasets are important. Priorities should be established for which data sets are required for the interested users - Linda Miller

Russ Rew reported on the imminent release of netCDF (Version 3.5). It integrates the Fortran 90 interface. It also provides support for building on MacOSX.

The recent release of LDM 5.1.2 has improved product queue operations and removed limitations on product queue sizes. The LDM 5.1.2 running on "motherlode" is relaying products as fast as they come in to 12 downstream sites, which would not have been possible with the previous version of the LDM. There is still a limit of 31 feed types, but several unused feeds have been reassigned for use with new data streams such as NOGAPS, NOAAPort, and NEXRAD data. Anne Wilson presented two LDM workshops and wrote a report evaluating the practicality of using Internet news protocols for delivering data in a future version of the LDM; further testing will be required to determine the desirability of such a change.

IDD status continues to be dynamic. Firewall situations are occurring more frequently at universities. Lamont Doherty has volunteered to become a top relay site, following installation of their NOAAPort system. This should alleviate much of the congestion in the NE sector of the US.

A demonstration of ADDE was provided by Tom Yoksas, using the information from the McIDAS workshop that was conducted during October. McIDAS provides some data discovery through THREDDS type servers. Some advantages cited include:

Future Directions Discussion

Led by Dave Fulker, this discussion entailed the evolution of Unidata's activities to include a larger view with education more broadly defined, and provision of data as only one component of the overall services. As was reinforced during the summer workshop, there is a need to take a broader perspective on science. As Cliff Jacobs has pointed out, the NSF/ATM budget is limited, but the potential for collaboration in the areas of information technology, the environment and biocomplexity is great. Some of the components of the draft strategic planning document for Unidata includes:


It was agreed that the Users Committee would think about a community participant for the Russell B. DeSouza Community Award. This will be revisited at the next Users Committee meeting.

Doug Yarger gave a brief demonstration of a virtual reality room (VRML).

Prepared by:

Linda Miller
External Liaison
Unidata Program Center
Boulder, Colorado
Questions or comments can be sent to: Linda Miller