Environmental applications research



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Yaohang L., A. Esterline, C. Baber, K. Fuller, M. Burns, V. Freeh, T. Hansen, T. LeFebvre, M. Schultz, M. Govett, P. Hamer, and A. Mysore, 2008: A sensor information framework for integrating and orchestrating distributed sensor services. 6th Annual NOAA-CREST Symposium, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, Feb 20-22, 2008.


Project Title: AWIPS and AWIPS II

Principal Researcher: Joanne Edwards

CIRA Team Members: Leigh Cheatwood-Harris, MarySue Schultz, Tom Kent,

Jim Fluke, Herb Grote, Jim Ramer


NOAA Project Goal/Program: Weather and Water—Serve society's needs for weather and water information / Local forecasts and warnings
Keywords: Independent Validation and Verification, ADE/SDK, SOA
1. Long-term Research Objectives and Specific Plans to Achieve Them:
The Advanced Weather Information Processing System, or AWIPS as it is known, is an interactive computer system that integrates meteorological and hydrological data, and satellite and radar data. The AWIPS project is sponsored by the National Weather Service (NWS). The project's objective is to improve the accuracy and timeliness of the forecasts and warnings disseminated to the public by modernizing the technology used by Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs) in the conterminous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Guam.

In order to continue to make AWIPS a viable tool for the timely dissemination of critical weather information, the NWS has embarked on a very ambitious goal to fully restructure AWIPS so that it is able to meet the ever-increasing demands of more and larger datasets, and to incorporate new science. The new project, called AWIPS II, is being developed by the NWS contractor, Raytheon. CIRA, in cooperation with the Information Systems Branch, is responsible for the validation and verification of the AWIPS II system. The goal is to ensure that the system can handle the capabilities that are being placed upon it. This will enable CIRA researchers to learn about new capabilities such as Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), Mule, Spring, Java, etc. By gaining this critical knowledge, CIRA researchers will be prepared to assist Raytheon in adding new functionality to the AWIPS II system.

2. Research Accomplishments/Highlights:
In support of AWIPS and AWIPS II, the following efforts and activities occurred during the past year:
a) Evaluated AWIPS II Task Orders 5, 6 and 8

b) Completed collection of baseline metrics for AWIPS II

c) Began training on SOA technology

d) Continued support of AWIPS I


3. Comparison of Objectives Vs Actual Accomplishments for the Report Period:
Objective: Continue evaluation of AWIPS II. The objective is to provide an independent verification and validation of the proposed next version of AWIPS, which is built upon a Services Oriented Architecture (SOA) paradigm. Another part of the objective is to provide metrics for the new AWIPS which will serve as a benchmark for evaluating the performance of AWIPS II.
Status: The first part of the objective is in progress. The second part of the objective has been completed.
Accomplishments: AWIPS II is being developed in stages, called Task Orders (TOs). The system being evaluated is called the AWIPS Development Environment/Software Development Toolkit or ADE/SDK. CIRA researchers have continued to be leaders in the evaluation of the ADE/SDK. In 2007, we completed the Independent Validation and Verification of Task Orders 5 and 6, and began writing test plans for TO8. CIRA researchers provided valuable feedback to the NWS, who passed on the information to Raytheon. The evaluation of the ADE/SDK has also enabled CIRA researchers to begin to explore the fundamentals of a SOA system.

Since GSD was instrumental in developing the current AWIPS, GSD was tasked to provide metrics on the current AWIPS that will be used for evaluating the performance of the new AWIPS. CIRA researchers completed the development of baseline metrics for AWIPS II and provided them to the NWS. This effort focused on performance, since AWIPS II must perform at either the same level of AWIPS I or better.

Objective: Begin developing an in-depth knowledge of AWIPS II for future enhancements to AWIPS II.

Status: This objective is in progress.
Accomplishments: CIRA researchers began training on the SOA infrastructure and the AWIPS II ADE in particular. The training consists of on-line courses, books, and tutorials. This task was begun late in 2007 and will be completed December 31, 2008. In-house training in Java was completed in May, 2007. This training has been of great benefit since most of the AWIPS II code has been written in Java.

Objective: Continue support of AWIPS I development to support on-going weather forecast field operations.


Status: This objective is in progress.
Accomplishments: CIRA researchers completed the ingest and display of two highly anticipated radar products: the Super-res products, which are ¼ km resolution and ½ deg in azimuth, and the Dual Polarization products. With dual polarization, the antenna sends both horizontal and the vertical pulses, enabling detection of the shapes of objects, and reducing the effects of ground clutter effect.

4. Leveraging/Payoff:


The knowledge gained from the SOA and AWIPS II training can be used as leverage for other development activities within GSD such as development of a Services Delivery Proving Ground, an Earth Information System, and a capability to provide probabilistic forecasting functionality to forecasters.

With the transfer of AWIPS functionality to Raytheon as part of the maintenance contract, GSD and CIRA researchers can focus on researching new capabilities for AWIPS, respond faster to new AWIPS requirements, and begin research into converting current AWIPS applications to the new AWIPS II architecture. By shifting our focus back to research and development, and risk reduction activities, we can better serve society's needs for enhanced weather forecasting, both nationally and internationally.

The new dual polarization data has the potential for improvements in the following areas:
a) Improved estimation of rain and snow rates.

b) Discrimination of hail from rain and possibly gauging hail size

c) Identification of precipitation type in winter storms

d) Identification of electrically active storms

e) Identification of aircraft icing

In addition to the above benefits, dual polarization data will help forecasters detect non-meteorological objects such as birds.


5. Research Linkages/Partnerships/Collaborators:
CIRA, ISB, NWS and Raytheon collaborated on the research required for the evaluation of AWIPS II.
6. Awards/Honors:
7. Outreach:
8. Publications:

VIII. Research Collaborations with the GSD Information Systems Branch (ISB) / Information Presentation Section


Project Title: AWIPS I and II Display Development and Support
Principal Researchers: Jim Ramer, Jim Fluke, and U. Herb Grote
NOAA Project Goal/Program: Weather and Water--Serve society's needs for weather and water information / Local forecasts and warning.
Keywords: AWIPS, ALPS, Meteorological Data Visualization
1. Long-term Research Objectives and Specific Plans to Achieve Them:

The research objective is the continued collaboration to investigate, design, develop and test advanced meteorological workstation display software. The emphasis within ISB/IPS is on the exploratory development of new user interface and data rendering aspects of meteorological workstations.

The D2D display software and associated data storage software is the central visualization component of the NWS AWIPS system. CIRA, in collaboration with ISB, will continue to augment this software base with novel data sources and visualization approaches. Furthermore, since the NWS is developing a new SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) based AWIPS II that will replace the current AWIPS system, CIRA will be working to familiarize itself with the new architecture and provide enhancements to this new system.

2. Research Accomplishments/Highlights:

The ability to view dual polarized radar data on the workstation is a powerful new capability. Dual polarized radar data provides significant additional information for estimating the amount of precipitation present in a radar echo. It provides information on the aspect ratio of the moisture droplets and therefore can identify the presence of hail in an echo, and also discern ground clutter from real meteorological data. A number of changes were made to the AWIPS workstation in anticipation of forecast offices having access to this data. The basic radar tilts can be viewed from the radar menu and CAPPIs (Constant Altitude PPI) and cross-sections have been added to the volume browser menu. In addition to constant altitude displays, forecaster can also view the data on isosurfaces such as temperature and pressure.

The ALPS (Advanced Linux Prototype System) provides an ideal platform for prototyping new capabilities. Many new features have been demonstrated and tested using the ALPS system. Among these is the ability to create graphics in KMZ format and display them on GoogleEarth (TM). Also, the FIM (Finite-volume Icosahedral Model) was integrated and displayed for the entire globe on the ALPS “movable” scale (see Fig. 1). This same data can be exported and displayed on SOS (Science on a Sphere).

A “gridded data server” was implemented to improve the speed with which an ALPS workstation user can view remotely located forecast model grids. This made it possible for selected west coast offices participating in the HMT (Hydrometeorological Testbed) to access very high resolution model data generated at GSD in Boulder in real-time.

CIRA continues to perform software CM (configuration management) for local developers working on AWIPS I. The CM support includes: keeping the local GSD AWIPS I baselines synchronized with the official baseline maintained by Raytheon; creating new local baselines when needed for AWIPS I and ALPS; and keeping these baselines up to date by merging appropriate AWIPS I changes into them. This year, support activities were expanded to include installation of new AWIPS II software with each TO (Task Order) deliverable, assisting other users in installing the software, exploring AWIPS II code, and learning to extend the system through “plugins.”


Fig 1. The movable scale on ALPS workstation displaying the FIM

3. Comparison of Objectives Vs Actual Accomplishments for the Report Period:

The team successfully supported the ALPS HMT development and deployment of the workstation to several NWS offices. CIRA provided support for AWIPS I Operational Builds (OB) with features such as the dual polarization data display.

4. Leveraging/Payoff:
The Central Weather Bureau in Taiwan is interested in making the ALPS system its new operational forecast system. The HMT experiment promises to help improve hydrometeorological forecasts.
5. Research Linkages/Partnerships/Collaborators:
6. Awards/Honors:
7. Outreach:
CIRA staff presented a paper at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society on the strengths and weaknesses of various graphic meta file formats for graphical data representation.
8. Publications:
Project Title: Collaborative Forecast Workstation Development
Principal Researcher: U. Herb Grote
NOAA Project Goal/Program: Weather and Water - Serve society's needs for weather and water information / Local forecasts and warnings
Key Words: Forecaster Collaboration, Graphical Product Generation, FXC
1. Long-term Research Objectives and Specific Plans to Achieve Them:
The objective is to develop an interactive display system that allows forecasters/users at different locations to collaborate in real-time on a forecast for a particular weather or weather-dependent event.

In order for several forecasters to prepare a consistent forecast, such as a prediction of a severe weather event or dispersion of a toxic chemical, all participants must have a common situational awareness. All participants must have access to the identical datasets and be able to display the data in the same manner. This facilitates the exchange of ideas and allows forecasters and users to get a similar understanding of the weather event. The display system must be able to display a diverse set of real-time meteorological data, allow users to graphically annotate the display, provide a text chat capability, and post and retrieve information from web servers. The system also needs to be able to run dispersion models to help predict movement of particulates such as volcanic ash, smoke, or toxic chemicals, and provide an alert capability using “reverse 911” vendors.

FXC is currently being enhanced and evaluated by several outside projects and organizations. The most significant are the following:


Geo-targeted Alerting System (GTAS)
1. Long-term Research Objectives and Specific Plans to Achieve Them::
The objective of the GTAS project is to develop a prototype public notification system to be used by NOAA and the DHS operations centers in the event of a biological, chemical or radiological release in the National Capital Region.

The key system components of the GTAS system are FXC (FX-Collaborate) and the HySPLIT dispersion model developed by ARL. Users execute the HySPLIT model from FXC and then collaborate to create the alert message to be sent to selected commercial vendors who then notify the public.


2. Research Accomplishments/Highlights:

Much of this year's work consisted of coordinating with NOAA HQ and DHS staff on defining the future expansion of GTAS. Several demonstrations of the system were given to DHS staff in Washington and to other visitors in Boulder. CIRA started coordination with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, developers of the NRAC dispersion model, to define the interface between GTAS and NRAC. NRAC is currently being used by DHS and several other government agencies.


3. Comparison of Objectives Vs Actual Accomplishments for the Report Period:
The basic objective of GTAS continues to be met. However, the emphasis this year changed from building and installing prototype systems to developing a deployment strategy.
4. Leveraging/Payoff:
GTAS development leverages the development done by GSD on FXC and AWIPS, and by ARL on the dispersion model. Features developed specifically for GTAS are found to be useful to other projects using FXC as their base platform.

5. Research Linkages/Partnerships/Collaborators:

The GTAS work is done in collaboration with NOAA/ARL, the developers of the HySPLIT model. ARL personnel are working with CIRA and GSD staff to assure that the model will work appropriately in the GTAS environment.

6. Awards/Honors:
7. Outreach:
The NOAA GTAS project leader presented a paper on GTAS at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society.
8. Publications:

Graphical Forecast Preparation

1. Long-term Research Objectives and Specific Plans to Achieve Them:


Government agencies at various levels need to be able to communicate important weather information to the public in many different ways. FXC has a comprehensive graphic annotation capability for creating meteorological products that is being used by a number of different customers, including the USAF, NASA, the Central Weather Bureau in Taiwan, private companies, and a large number of NWS forecast offices (e.g. http://www.crh.noaa.gov/lbf/?n=crwebgraphics). These graphical products are posted to the web for public use, included in presentations, and used in briefings to various end users. The objective of this activity is to work with government and private companies to improve the utility of FXC for communicating weather information to the public and specific groups of users.

2. Research Accomplishments/Highlights:

CIRA, with support from a NOAA contractor, added further enhancements to the software to improve the ability to read and display geographical information. FXC users require easy access to and flexibility in viewing various GIS information. In addition to shapefiles, FXC users can now also display high resolution mapped (i.e. geo-referenced) images that have been exported from ArcMap (TM) (see Fig. 2). To assist users in installing and customizing FXC to their needs, the FXC installation and management script was also enhanced to provide greater support for importing maps and color tables. Coordination continues with CWB (Central Weather Bureau) in Taiwan to assist them in making FXC their primary system for preparing graphical forecast products.

Fig. 2 Graphical Forecast for the Web created with FXC

3. Comparison of Objectives Vs Actual Accomplishments for the Report Period:



CIRA released FXC Version 4.4.2 to NWS forecasters, which provides additional features for preparing graphical products for the Web. The same software was also released to CWB staff for tailoring to their special needs.
4. Leveraging/Payoff:
FXC leverages the development done for AWIPS I and uses other software developed in the public domain. FXC uses GeoTools to read ESRI shapefiles and other Java software packages to support features such as animated GIFs. Several projects within GSD are tailoring FXC for their particular customer's needs.
5. Research Linkages:
The FXC staff coordinates primarily with other branches within GSD. Current activities include investigation of JavaScript and AJAX as possible technologies to replace the current 100% Java based system.
6. Awards/Honors:
7. Outreach:
FXC provides a website (http://fxc.noaa.gov) to the public that describes FXC and some of its applications. The site includes a collection of graphical images generated by forecasters, documentation, and links to sites using FXC.
8. Publications:






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