Users Committee Meeting
30 September-1 October, 1999
Boulder, Colorado

Members: UPC Staff:
Jennie Moody, Chair, Univ of VA Sally Bates
Rich Clark, Millersville Univ John Caron
Dave Dempsey, San Francisco State Steve Chiswell
Steve Koch, North Carolina State Univ Ben Domenico
Michael Morgan, Univ of Wisc-Madison Steve Emmerson
Larry Riddle, Scripps, UCSD Dave Fulker
Clint Rowe, Univ of Nebraska-Lincoln Joanne Graham
Tony Rockwood, Metro State College Jo Hansen
Jim Steenburgh, Univ of Utah Robb Kambic
Doug Yarger, Iowa State Univ Linda Miller
Don Murray
Ex-Officio Members: Russ Rew
Charlie Murphy, PolComm, Kean Univ Jeff Weber
Tom Whittaker, ATAC, Univ of Wis Mike Wright
Tom Yoksas
Jack Fellows, UOP
Susan Jesuroga, COMET
Tim Spangler, COMET
Mary Marlino, PAGE

Administrative Matters:

Introductions of Larry Riddle, new Users Committee member, and Jack Fellows, UOP Director, were made. A thanks to departing Users Committee member, Dave Dempsey for his service to the Users Committee. Dave will remain on the Program Committee for Workshop 2000, and he has been added to the MetApps Task Force. Steve Koch and Michael Morgan's terms have been renewed.

The proposed dates for the next meeting are 16-17 March, 2000. This meeting will be a full two-day meeting.

A review of the action items:

Action 1: A document on NT platforms was provided for the Committee.

Action 2: See Charlie Murphy's report below.

Action 3: Linda Miller arranged provisions for the Russ DeSouza award to be made at the AMS Special IIPS-Unidata Session.

Action 4: A newsletter article about the Russell B. DeSouza award will appear in the Fall Unidata Newsletter.

Actions 5 and 6: Steve Koch provided a document and demonstration. See link and discussions below.

Action 7: The UPC needed to wait for Action 5 and 6 to be completed, prior to clarifying strategy on the GEMPAK issue. This Action will be carried forward to the next meeting.

Action 8: The GEMPAK (N-AWIPS) letter was sent and acknowledged by General Kelly, NWS.

Action 9: The Users Committee workshop 2000 planning is underway.

Director's Report - Dave Fulker

The report included the following highlights:

VisAD update and integration - Bill Hibbard

Bill Hibbard, SSEC, University of Wisconsin, provided a presentation on the future of scientific computing and VisAD, the Java visualization system he is developing with Unidata and others. VisAD is written to support distributed objects on a network. Distributed applications built with VisAD can take advantage of shared data and shared visualizations. Connections between data and displays are two-way. The community of VisAD users is growing.

Don Murray provided a demonstration of some of the Java application prototypes under development at Unidata, including some based on VisAD. He demonstrated the satellite image viewer prototype that is being used at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. This also demonstrates ADDE access to remote data. He also showed his current version of the three-dimensional hodograph viewer.

MetApps Update - Charlie Murphy

Charlie Murphy summarized his status report.

The group has been using a Web-based collaboration environment based on the Mike Wright's work with D3E. It's called Unidata Meteorological Applications Discussion Area (UMADA). It helps to structure the discussion and debate on the various issues. It also documents the discussion, providing a historical archive. So far, there has been prototype testing of surface obs viewer and interactive skew-T. The next round includes the satellite image viewer and model viewer. Active members develop use cases for prototypes.


The components approach and integrated systems approach were discussed.

How to combine components to build customized applications was discussed. There was some disagreement about whether this can be made easy with a drag-and-drop interface, or whether component assembly would require specialized skills. There was consensus that along with components, the developers should work towards the development of useful turn-key applications already assembled from components.

Prototype to deliverable -- circle of involvement could grow. User involvement has been weak, but we must be creative in facilitating involvement in the process. Considerations included: how can the Users Committee become more proactive with the other members of the community? Should a symposium of users be planned eventually?

ACTION 1: Unidata should create a more concrete description of the goals of the Java development, including the relationship between components, a GUI framework for the components, and turn-key applications.

Satellite Data Discussion

The issue of access to an off-line archive of GOES GVAR imagery, available at the University of Wisconsin was discussed at the previous two Policy Committee meetings. Dr. Robert Fox had asked for input, and this was formalized in a Policy Committee action item:

Policy Committee Action 4: The Unidata Users Committee will assess Unidata users' interest in the satellite data archived at SSEC and report on this at a future Policy Committee meeting.

The value of this resource to the community was discussed, Users Committee members emailed their responses to the chair. On the basis of these very positive responses, and the recognition that the ready availability of these data will foster research and education at Unidata universities, the following resolution was made, encouraging UPC staff to pursue this issue with NCDC and NOAA administration.


The Unidata Users Committee, representing users at more than 100 universities in the U.S., encourages Unidata to pursue free access to the GVAR archive at the University of Wisconsin/SSEC. We believe that this will result in significant research opportunities and foster growth of satellite meteorology education at universities. We hope that all parties can reach an agreement that will allow free access to the archived data by Unidata sites.

Access to real-time satellite data via the Unidata feed: A recent change in the contract between UPC and SSEC Wisconsin makes it possible to consider changes to the current distribution of near-real-time imagery. The Users Committee will work with UPC staff to provide higher spatial or temporal resolution, however, any proposed changed needs to consider the impact on the data feed, bandwidth and LDM performance. There is also interest in making NESDIS supported derived image products available as additional AREA files in the current broadcast. These products will be available in the next version of NOAAPort, and Jennie Moody suggested Unidata should consider making these images available over the IDD at the same time. Time constraints limited the discussion of this subject at this meeting; further discussion was tabled and the issue of the Wisconsin data feed will be on the agenda of the Spring Users Committee meeting.

ACTION 2: Unidata should provide quantitative information on real-time satellite data options, available from SSEC, for the next meeting.

General Discussion

Installation Support:

Tony Rockwood raised installation support concerns about the time spent by UPC staff for each OS2 site to UNIX transition. After extensive discussion, it was agreed that the Java platform independence should improve the situation dramatically. It was agreed that it is not worth the time to invest resources on improvement of documentation to assist community members at this time. Unidata support should take whatever steps they deem appropriate to assist the community sites.

NCAR's Scientific Computing Division (SCD)/Unidata Collaboration:

The LDM is running on an SCD machine, and data is being stored to disk by feed type in hourly files (DDPLUS, FSL2 feeds) and by individual model run (HDS). Steve Chiswell has created a web page for access by the community.

SCD has identified funds to work with Unidata to provide a 30-90 day archive.

NIDS Status:

Testing of NIDS products is underway at the NWS. October 7 will be the beginning of encryption of NIDS test data from the NWS. The data will become freely available after Oct 2000. Unidata will continue to track this activity.

The NIDS floater is being shared by Millersville and College of DuPage, with Millersville maintaining the point of contact status. This arrangement is working well.

Case Studies

The case study project remains viable and is moving forward, with decoders being provided, and the move toward raw data availability in the cases. This transition should make the cases useful to a broader community of users.

Workshop Coordination:

Doug Yarger and Tony Rockwood are co-chairmen for the Summer 2000 workshop.

Proposed schedules and logistics were discussed. These will be refined and provided at a later date.

ACTION 3: Committee and staff responsibilities for the summer workshop, e.g., scribes for each room, technical support, needs to be discussed at the next meeting.

Steve Koch's Demonstration and Discussion

The Committee spent an hour at the COMET classroom to see a demonstration of GEMPAK, GARP and AWIPS. Koch's demonstration included several functions he considered valuable for future consideration. He also provided some comparisons between the applications. Steve's report is available for review.

Friday, October 1, 1999

Follow up to Steve Koch's demonstration included a discussion of General Kelly's letter providing source code of GEMPAK (N-AWIPS) to Unidata. A new release of GEMPAK 6.0 is forthcoming from Mary desJardins. NMAP, a graphical user interface with product generation capability, will be part of the next GEMPAK release.

Several issues were discussed about the aspects of Unidata development of current packages and the future Java applications. Points made were:

ACTION 4: A plan should be created by Unidata for post release of GEMPAK 6.0.

Discussion included a concern of stagnation of applications that weren't under active development. The universities need to keep up with how to get data and use it with their applications.

ACTION 5: NMAP should be demonstrated at the next Users Committee meeting by Steve Chiswell.


Is discourse with the community needed to engage in a "feature list?" Susan Jesuroga suggested bridging some of the differences between AWIPS and Unidata applications through additional interactions with the SOOs and use of the LDAD (LDM-based) system being used by the SOOs and WFOs.

Workshop Discussion-cont

Mary Marlino, PAGE, and Susan Jesuroga, COMET, were present for continued discussion of the summer workshop.

After much discussion and refinement, the committee agreed:

This workshop will showcase best practices in the use of Unidata applications or data for undergraduate and graduate education and research. Workshop activities will offer hands-on sessions and pedagogical guidance. Presenters are sought who will demonstrate and discuss experiences that promote active learning opportunities relating to the following topics:

This information will be included with the workshop announcement, to provide additional information for potential attendees and presenters.

Miscellaneous Discussion

There were questions that came in from community representatives, pertaining to the agenda items for the meeting. After discussion, it was agreed that:

ACTION 6: Dave Fulker and Jennie Moody will respond to the email, from a community member, regarding the vision for future data ingest and display. This response will take the form of an email response to the individual and a Unidata Newsletter article.

ACTION 7: Linda Miller will respond to the email question that came in from a community member about the future of DIFAX.

Questions or comments can be sent to

Go to the Unidata Homepage.