Environmental applications research


Objective A—Successful in diagnosing the I/O problem and support is in progress



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Objective A—Successful in diagnosing the I/O problem and support is in progress

Objective B—Successful

Objective C—Successful in bringing FIM to the level of producing daily forecasts. Ongoing improvements are in progress
Objective D—In Progress
Objective E—Successful
Objective F—Successful
Objective G—N/A
4. Leveraging/Payoff:
5. Research Linkages/Partnerships/Collaborators:
6. Awards/Honors:
Jeff Smith received the 2007 GSD Web Award for "Best New Site" for Data Locator
Jacques Middlecoff, Tom Henderson and Ning Wang each received a NOAA Certificate of Appreciation for preparing FIM for display on Science On a Sphere.
7. Outreach:
8. Publications:

B. Aviation Systems—Development and Deployment
Project Title: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Prototyping and Aviation Collaboration (PACE) Effort—Traffic Management Unit (TMU) Project
Principal Researcher: Jim Frimel
NOAA Project Goals/Programs: Weather and Water—Serving society’s needs for

weather and water information/Local forecasts and warnings; Commerce and Transportation—Support the Nation’s commerce with safe, efficient, and environmentally sound transportation / Aviation weather


Key Words: Aviation Weather, Software Tools, Data Products
1. Long-term Research Objectives and Specific Plans to Achieve Them:
PACE is an operational test area located within the Fort Worth Air Route Traffic Control Center's CWSU for developing innovative science and software technology used to directly provide weather support for the ARTCC Traffic Management Unit (TMU).

The TMU project staged at this facility is researching the weather information needs and developing innovative software technology used to directly provide weather support for the ARTCC Traffic Management Unit (TMU). A major objective is to investigate aviation datasets and forecast products specifically tailored for the ARTCC air traffic weather forecasting environment among operational weather forecasting facilities, and to investigate the utilization of collaborative weather forecasting.

The objectives came from the necessity to research and investigate software tools and data products for minimizing adverse weather disruptions in air traffic operations within the National Airspace System (NAS). Requirements and needs can be found in the study performed by FAA ARS-100 on “Decision-Based Weather Needs for the Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) Traffic Management Unit”.
The TMU project is currently using convective weather products to address the weather information needs of the TMU relating to weather-related hazards impacting air traffic; this phase will be followed by icing, turbulence, and ceiling/visibility. Each phase will address the tactical (0-1 hour) and the strategic (2-6 hour) application of the above products to help the TMU decision maker in directing air traffic into and out of the ARTCC airspace. All phases will be subjected to the iterative process of defining, developing, demonstrating, and evaluating the weather related hazard graphic and its presentation to the Traffic Manager.

The FX-Collaborate (FXC) software, developed at NOAA's Earth System Research Lab in the Global Systems Division’s Information Systems Branch, is a major component of the TMU project. The major system used to acquire, distribute, create and provide the required datasets for FXC is the AWIPS Linux data ingest and display system. The FXC and AWIPS software is being tailored, modified, extended, enhanced, and utilized in the TMU project. The FXC software allows for the remote access and display of AWIPS datasets over the Internet, a collaboration capability among participants at physically different locations, and the ability to utilize tools to aid in discussing forecasts. Additionally, the TMU project relies on the AWIPS system for generating the content available on the TMU Project TCHP and ADA website.

A major advancement in the design evolution of the TMU Project took place in the 2.2a release of the software in June 2007. This was the first release of an end-to-end application that allows CWSU forecasters and traffic managers to plan for the safest and most efficient use of ARTCC, TRACON, and terminal airspace for all types of weather impacts. It was an integration of a Decision Aids Database, the Web-Based content, FXC, and AWIPS. The TMU Project is comprised of a suite of systems that consists of a database to house tactical decision aids, a web presence to display this content to traffic managers, and a FXC TMU system capable of overriding the impact information. The FXC TMU end-to-end capability allows forecasters to edit and override aviation route impacts. The override information is propagated back through the system and made available to update AWIPS, FXC, and the TMU Web Content displays. The initial design and structure of the decision aids relational database was populated with map background information for the ZFW arrival/departures, high-use jet routes, and TRACON arrival/departure gates. Following were changes to the AWIPS impact decoders to create impact information based on the NCWF2 datasets that would then be stored in the database and server side processing and generation of the web content generation.

A goal of the TMU website is to consolidate all tactical aviation weather hazards information into a suite of products for presentation to TMU decision-makers in an easily understood format (A, GO-NO-GO, approach to air traffic route and flow information). What is important to understand about the Weather Information Decision Aids (WIDA) web content page is that it is a complete end-to-end system, not just a simple web display that provides useful information assisting in tactical and strategic decision making. It is an extremely complex suit of systems that involves AWIPS, FXC, content generation for the web, and a database backend. This is an end-to-end decision aid tool centered on the forecaster in the loop concept for helping to keep and create a more consistent, relevant, and accurate Weather Information Decision Aid (WIDA) product available for TMU managers. The consistency and power comes from the fact that all these systems are now tied and share the same data source.

The following images highlight the concept of “forecaster overrides” in the 2.2a release of the TMU Project software. The following sequence of images will show North, South, East, West, ZFW TRACON Departure Gates Impact Information based on NCWF2 and then Forecaster Edited Override information.
Images 1, 2 and 3 show current impact with no Forecaster Edits. ZFW TRACON departure gates are displaying green (no impact) and yellow (partial impact). Images 4, 5, and 6 show the result of a forecaster overriding the impact information by editing all Departure Gates RED and how such a change in FXC is propagated back for display in the WIDA Webpage used by the TMU Traffic Managers.

Fig. 1. Forecaster FXC tool showing current ZFW TRACON Departure Gate impacts with NCWF2.

Fig. 2. Traffic Manager (WIDA) Web Display showing concurrent Red-light/Green-light Departure Gate Impact information.



Fig. 3. Traffic Manager (WIDA) Web Display showing concurrent Drill Down image Departure Gate Impact Information (Drill Down image is available by selecting any desired route/time cell within the webpage).



Fig. 4. FXC tool showing FORECASTER EDITS and OVERIDE to all RED of the ZFW TRACON Departure Gate impacts with NCWF2.



Fig. 5. Traffic Manager (WIDA) Web Display showing updated RED OVERIDE Red-light/Green-light Departure Gate Impact information.


Fig. 6. Traffic Manager (WIDA) Web Display showing updated RED OVERRIDE Drill Down image Departure Gate Impact Information (Drill Down image is available by selecting any desired route/time cell within the webpage).

2. Research Accomplishments/Highlights:
At the end of the previous research year, the TMU Project team was notified of a budget and funding shortfall. This unfortunately resulted in a June 30, 2007 layoff of CIRA engineers and federal contractors working on the project. As a result, priorities shifted to mothballing the TMU Project to a functional/stable release and all systems were migrated to a minimum environment topology for continued operational support. Additionally, this framework provided a minimally functional development and support environment based on the projected demands and resources.

Continued funding for this project was from base allocations and is being maintained by a skeleton team. The decision to keep the project afloat was based on the high value and the potential for resurrecting this project in the future. Throughout the year, continued effort by the Federal Manager was placed on securing funding for the project’s revival. This effort was augmented by the systems support and software changes made throughout the year.

A March 10, 2008 email was circulated indicating that NWS Southern Region had approved the transition of the experimental “Tactical Convective Hazard Product (TCHP)” to operational effective immediately. This is good news. It is a positive reflection of the project work but only indicates that TCHP as a concept has been accepted as a baseline product in CWSU operations and does not indicate any definitive funding.

During the 2007/2008 research year, CIRA staff at NOAA's Earth System Research Lab in the Global Systems Division’s Aviation Branch concentrated its efforts on the follow up and downsizing of the TMU Project 2.2a release of system in June 2007.
July through September 2007 priorities focused on configuring the Minimum Environment Development Framework that would reduce overhead but still allow for project maintenance, support, development, and testing. During the middle of July, a patched version of the TMU system was delivered along with training in Ft. Worth demonstrating the ability of forecaster overrides and the decision aids database.
September through October 2007, priorities focused on preparation for an FAA meeting in Washington DC demonstrating the system’s current capabilities, the decision aids website database, and FXC Override capability. This exercise required the creation, development and testing of running the systems, the override capability and the database from an archived data case in an offline mode. In November, we continued and propagated the Aviation Decision Aids and AWIPS Database rebuild and maintenance on all our remaining operational systems in the minimum environment topology.
January through May 2008, priorities focused on a Final TMU delivery with the latest systems build. Software changes included fixes to AIRMETs, SIGMETs, and Aircraft Situation ingest, CCFP web image content, scale changes, and map background updates. Additionally, enhancements were made to the TCHP Website to incorporate the decision aids impact data for STARs, SIDs, and High Use Airways. Also, all web content for both the Aviation Decision Aids (ADA) and the TCHP products were now being generated from a single content generator.

Over the past year, the TMU Project has had the following highlights in GSD headlines.

http://www.fsl.noaa.gov/media/hotitems/2007/07Oct30-2.html

Aviation Technology Successfully Transferred; excerpt from link above.

Aviation technology developed by ESRL's Global Systems Division has been successfully transferred to Raytheon. Aviation-specific enhancements made to the Advanced Weather Information Processing System (AWIPS) regarding icing, turbulence, convection, ceiling, and visibility are now integrated into the OB8.2 and OB8.3 versions of AWIPS, being prepared for field deployment in 2008. For the first time, the National Weather Service's (NWS) Center Weather Service Units can use the AWIPS Remote Display (ARD) to view aviation weather products and map backgrounds for use in their aviation forecasting and briefings to the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Traffic Management Units (TMU). These products give visual references to affected airspace that words alone sometimes do not capture. This is a major step at ensuring that future aviation research and development efforts will transition into aviation operational forecasting systems quickly and efficiently and that NWS' role in aviation forecasting for the FAA is strengthened.


Customer feedback from Tom Amis, Fort Worth CWSU MIC
ATC Daily report for July 31 2007:

Another success story for PACE Convective Tactical Decision Aid.  We started the day off at 1000z with a small area of convection near our BYP arrival gate, RUC model data was indicating the potential for growth and in like manner, both the NCWF2/6 were both keyed in on the areas.  By 1015z, we were talking with ZFW TMU to develop a SWAP for East departures and the BYP2 playbook through 15z.

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

The TMU research is highly dynamic, customer driven and relies heavily on customer feedback. As such, requirements, plans, schedules and goals are subject to change. Although constrained by these dynamics, the actual accomplishments did meet the project’s research objectives for the year.

                                                                         

4. Leveraging/Payoff:

5. Research Linkages/Partnerships/Collaborators: FAA AWC, NWS CWSU
6. Awards/Honors:
7. Outreach:
8. Publications:
Project Title: FXC AI (Aviation Initiative) Demonstration
Principal Researcher: Jim Frimel
NOAA Project Goals/Programs: Commerce and Transportation—Support the Nation’s commerce with information for safe, efficient, and environmentally sound transportation/ Aviation weather
Key Words: Aviation Weather, Collaborative Software Tool

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


Consistent with the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization’s (ATO) philosophy to review, upgrade, and create efficiencies in various functions, in January 2006, the National Weather Service (NWS) Corporate Board agreed to prototype the FXC AI system to demonstrate a more effective and efficient forecast process to support Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) operations.
The FXC Aviation Demonstration was a short-term effort that took place from July through September of 2006. It was a rapid response development and prototyping effort with an extremely demanding schedule. This effort was in support of a National Weather Service (NWS) proposal for transforming the agency’s aviation weather service program to meet the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements of reducing costs and enhancing services. The initiative focuses on services provided by NWS Center Weather Service Units (CWSU).

The participants in the demonstration were the Leesburg, Virginia Center Weather Service Unit (CWSU) and the Sterling, Virginia Weather Forecast Office (WFO). System and server support was from Boulder’s ESRL/Global Systems Division. The purpose of the FXC Aviation Initiative was to demonstrate the capability to perform collaboration between the Center Weather Service Unit (CWSU) and the Weather Forecast Office (WFO) to produce new forecast and decision aid products that translate weather impact on en-route and terminal air operations and that provide common situational awareness to all prototype participants; additionally to demonstrate the capability of the WFO to remotely support ARTCC weather information requirements when the CWSU is unavailable.

During the summer of 2006, CIRA researchers in the Global Systems Division’s Aviation Branch, along with FXC engineers from the Information Systems Branch, concentrated its efforts on Aviation Initiative development. This development was based on the ESRL technologies and services being developed by CIRA engineers at the Prototyping Aviation Collaborative Effort (PACE) facility at the Fort Worth ARTCC. For a description of PACE and related FXC Development, refer to the FXC TMU project description above. The FX-Collaborate (FXC) software, developed at NOAA's ESRL was the major software system used in the Aviation Initiative Demonstration. The FXC Aviation Initiative offers on-demand services, remote briefing capabilities, new graphical products, and tactical decision aids.
2. Research Accomplishments/Highlights:
Over the past year, no new research or development was directly applied to any AI Project work. However, enhancements to the FXC software from development for the TMU and FXC VACT projects will directly benefit and translate to the AI system since it is based on the same core software. There were no deliverables made to AI this year. However, it is important to mention that a core server and client systems are still in use and was supported throughout the year. The AI system is being used at the Leesburg, Virginia Center Weather Service Unit (CWSU) for its daily weather briefings to the Traffic Managers.

Fig. 1. View of the remote briefing play list.



Fig. 2. View of the FXC AI BriefEE display with map enhancements and impacted DC Metro departure routes.

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

The nature of the AI demonstration was short fused, highly dynamic, and customer driven. With the demonstration timeframe set to end in September 2006, requirements, plans, and goals were subject to adjustment in order to meet the timeline without interfering with the overall objectives. The demonstration was completed and the objectives were met.
4. Leveraging/Payoff:
5. Research Linkages/Partnerships/Collaborators:
6. Awards/Honors:
7. Outreach:
8. Publications:
Project Title: FXC VACT (Volcanic Ash Coordination Tool) Project
Principal Researcher: Jim Frimel
NOAA Project Goals/Programs: Weather and Water—Serve society’s needs for

weather and water information / Local forecasts and warnings; Commerce and Transportation—Support the Nation’s commerce with information for safe, efficient, and environmentally sound transportation / Aviation weather


Key Words:Volcanic Ash Advisories, Data Ingest and Display System,Collaborative Tool
1. Long-term Research Objectives and Specific Plans to Achieve Them:
The FXC VACT project is an experimental client/server based application utilizing the Internet and is based on the FX-Collaborate (FXC) system architecture. The participating agencies are currently the National Weather Service Alaska Region Headquarters (NWSARH), Anchorage Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), and the Anchorage Air Route Traffic Control Center, Center Weather Service Unit (CWSU).

The FX-Collaborate (FXC) software, developed at NOAA's Earth System Research Lab in the Global Systems Division’s Information Systems Branch, is a major component of the FXC VACT project. The major system used to acquire, distribute, create and provide the required datasets for FXC is the AWIPS Linux data ingest and display system. The FXC and AWIPS software is being tailored, modified, extended, enhanced, and utilized in the FXC VACT project. The FXC software allows for the remote access and display of AWIPS datasets over the Internet, a collaboration capability among participants at physically different locations, and the ability to utilize tools to aid in discussing forecasts.

                                                                                      

The FXC VACT project is a research and development effort in direct response to investigating the collaborative approaches and needs of agencies involved in generating Volcanic Ash Advisories. The FXC Volcanic Ash Coordination Tool is being tested at each of these operational sites to investigate forecaster productivity tools and collaboration capabilities in response to aviation hazards posed by volcanic eruptions. The system is designed to help locate and determine the extent and movement of volcanic ash so that more accurate, timely, consistent, and relevant ash dispersion and ash fallout watches, warnings, and forecasts can be issued. These watches, warnings, and forecasts can be disseminated using current approaches and standards (societal impact statements) but will also be tailored for end user needs in the form of societal impact graphics (i.e. jet routes or runways turning red when ash is present). Graphics tailored to aviation needs focus on making the National Airspace System (NAS) safer and more efficient during a volcanic ash event. Efforts are focused on integrating the latest advancements in volcanic ash detection and dispersion from the research community, allowing users to overlay and manipulate this information in real-time; developing tools to generate end user impact statements and graphics; and disseminating the impact statements in a timely fashion so that hazard mitigation plans can be activated.

The VACT system allows users at different sites and with different expertise to simultaneously view identical displays of volcanic ash and other related datasets (i.e. shared situational awareness) and collaborate in near real-time. The expertise from all participating agencies is used in the determination of location, extent, and movement allowing for forecasts of fallout and dispersion to be consistent and more accurate. Relevant data on local agency systems and on the Internet can be pulled into the VACT system during collaborative sessions among the agencies to help in the analysis phase of an event. Societal impact forecasts can be disseminated faster through the development of a smart-system, which will automatically center on the area of eruption and display or highlight all key datasets for the volcanic ash event. Users of the VACT system aren’t tasked with determining which data is relevant and can focus their attention on location, extent, dispersion, and societal impact. Societal impact statements can be disseminated following current standards and practices or by interactive briefings tailored to meet the needs of the end user (i.e. the public, emergency managers, FAA, airlines, armed services, state agencies, etc.). All volcanic ash events are captured and archived to help improve detection and dispersion methodologies, train new users on VACT functionality, detect and eliminate problems with multiple agencies collaborating in real-time on volcanic ash events, and improve dissemination techniques.

2. Research Accomplishments/Highlights:
At the end of the previous research year, the FXC VACT Project team was notified of a budget and funding shortfall. This unfortunately resulted in a June 30, 2007 layoff of CIRA engineers and federal contractors working on the project. As a result, priorities shifted to mothballing the FXC VACT Project to a functional/stable release and all systems were migrated to a minimum environment topology for continued operational support. Additionally, this framework provided a minimally functional development and support environment based on the projected demands and resources.
Continued funding for this project was from base allocations and is being maintained by a skeleton team. The decision to keep the project afloat was based on the high value and the potential for resurrecting this project in the future. Throughout the year continued effort by the Federal Manager was placed on securing funding for the projects revival. This effort was augmented by the systems support and software changes made throughout the year.
During the 2007/2008 research year, CIRA staff at NOAA's Earth System Research Lab in the Global Systems Division’s Aviation Branch concentrated its efforts on the follow up and downsizing of the FXC VACT Project in June 2007.
July through September 2007 priorities focused on configuring the Minimum Environment Development Framework that would reduce overhead but still allow for project maintenance, support, development, and testing.

September through December 2007, the FXC VACT work focused on preparation for a January 07 delivery that had been reprioritized back in June 06 by the NWS funding source in favor of the FXC AI Demonstration. This delivery included fixing software defects, making enhancements, and system testing. Fixes related to the Puff Interface were implemented in addition to a punch list of item related to data, menus, and radar.

In January, the FXC VACT 2.2a release was installed in Anchorage, Alaska at three NWS sites and at the AVO USGS site. Training was performed on many of the new capabilities in the system that supported and streamlined the dissemination of products to the FAA regarding a volcanic ash threat to their airspace. This included:
--Enhancements and fixes to procedures

--MIS Text

--Layer order, colors, bundles, slide show, loop, zoom

--Auto update

--JPG resolutions and saving images collaboratively

--More Data Models

--Volcano Cameras added to the menus
January through May 2008, priorities focused on a Final VACT delivery for May 2008 with the latest systems build. Software changes were based on feedback from the January delivery which included Full Resolution Alaska Satellite fixes, data fixes, enhancements to the scales, and maps.
Also demonstrated was FXC’s send to web capabilities for creating and delivering enhanced web products for Volcanic Ash SIGMETS and Volcanic Ash Advisory products. A webpage accessible on the VACT website was created showing sample graphics generated in FXC (http://vact.noaa.gov). This demonstrates the capability of FXC to generate and deliver enhanced graphical products that are currently being distributed by the NWS Alaska Aviation Weather Unit.
3. Comparison of Objectives Vs Actual Accomplishments for the Report Period:
The VACT research is highly dynamic, customer driven and relies heavily on customer feedback. As such, requirements, plans, schedules and goals are subject to change. Although constrained by these dynamics, the actual accomplishments did meet the project’s research objectives for the year.
4. Leveraging/Payoff:

                                          

5. Research Linkages/Partnerships/Collaborators:

Alaska Volcano Observatory, FAA Alaska Center Weather Unit, FAA Anchorage Weather Service Unit.

6. Awards/Honors:
7. Outreach:
8. Publications:
C. Forecast Verification
Project Title: Real-Time Verification System (RTVS)

Principal Researcher: Sean Madine

CIRA Team Members: Melissa Petty and Daniel Schaffer
NOAA Goal/Program: Commerce and Transportation—Support the Nation’s commerce with information for safe, efficient, and environmentally sound transportation / Aviation Weather
Key Words: Forecast Verification, Aviation Weather




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