FSL in Review 2002 - 2003

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Office of the Director


Office of Administration
and Research


Information and
Technology Services


Forecast Research
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Demonstration Division


Systems Development
Division


Aviation Division


Modernization Division


International Division


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Acronyms and Terms


Figures Listing



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Nita Fullerton


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FIR 2002 - 2003 ID MastHead
Dr. William B. Bendel, Chief
(Supervisory Meteorologist)
(303-497-6708)

Web Homepage: http://www-id.fsl.noaa.gov

Travis Andersen, Systems Analyst, 303-497-6710
Dr. Renate Brümmer, Project Manager, 303-497-6718
Dr. Wayne Fischer, Physical Scientist, 303-497-6759
Sylvia N. Hasui, Secretary Office Automation, 303-497-6709
Yoon Jung Lee, Guest, 303-497-5265
Vivian A. LeFebvre, System Administrator, 303-497-6721
Sean Madine, Technical Project Lead, 303-497-6769
Dr. Fanthune Moeng, Project Manager, 303-497-6065
Maureen Murray, Computer Graphics Expert, 303-497-6705
Seung Kyun Park, Guest, 303-497-4260
Robin Paschall, Systems Analyst, 303-497-6632
Evan Polster, Systems Analyst, 303-497-6778
John Pyle, Systems Analyst, 303-497-6724
David Salisbury, Systems Analyst, 303-497-6753
Byung Hyun Song, Guest, 303-497-5265
Jean Tomkowicz, ITS Policy and Planning, 303-497-6706
Michael Turpin, Technical Project Manager, 303-497-6756
Dr. Ning Wang, Senior Systems Analyst, 303-497-6704
Ali Zimmerman, Systems Analyst, 303-497-6736

(The above roster, current when document is published, includes government, cooperative agreement, and commercial affiliate staff.)

Address: NOAA Forecast Systems Laboratory – Mail Code: FS7
David Skaggs Research Center
325 Broadway
Boulder, Colorado 80305-3328


Objectives

The International Division's mission is to oversee internal development of systems intended primarily for global or international application and to facilitate international cooperative agreements and technology transfer programs. Support is provided for the following major activities:
  • The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program – GLOBE is an international environmental research program that links the efforts of students, teachers, and scientists. Students at schools around the world monitor a wide variety of environmental parameters that are regularly posted on the GLOBE Website. This provides a unique global database of atmospheric, soil, biologic, and hydrologic measurements available to researchers for a multitude of experiments.
  • The CWB Technology Transfer Project – FSL's longest standing cooperative project is the Technology Transfer Project at the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) of Taiwan. Since 1990, CWB-FSL activities have created joint mutual benefits, especially cooperation in the areas of information systems, data assimilation and modeling, high-performance computing, and observing systems.
  • The Korean Meteorological Administration (KMA) Project – The International Division is under agreement with the Meteorological Research Institute (METRI) of the Korean Meteorological Administration (KMA) to design a nowcasting system based on FSL's WFO-Advanced meteorological system, support startup and operation, and implement a training program for forecaster systems and operations staff.
  • The FX-Net Program – FX-Net is designed as an inexpensive, PC workstation system for use in a variety of forecast, training, education, and research applications not requiring the full capabilities of a WFO-Advanced type system.
  • The Wavelet Data Compression Initiative – The Wavelet Data Compression initiative was established to further investigate the possibility of using the technology for other meteorological datasets. Compared to imagery datasets, model datasets usually have higher numbers of dimensions, but each dimension is of much smaller size. Therefore, special treatments are needed to exploit the correlation among all dimensions.

The GLOBE Program
Michael Turpin, Project Manager

Objectives

Established in 1994, GLOBE is implemented through bilateral agreements between the U.S. Government and governments of partner nations. The goals of this education and research program are to increase environmental awareness of people throughout the world, contribute a better understanding of the earth, and help all students reach higher levels of achievement in science and mathematics. Under the guidance of their teachers, students worldwide collect environmental data around their schools and post these findings on the Internet. GLOBE scientists design protocols for measurements (Figure 74) that are simple enough for K-12 students to perform, and are also useful in scientific research. As scientists respond to the major environmental issues of today, laboratory and classroom collaboration will help unravel how complex interconnected processes affect the global environment. Years of student data collection have resulted in a significant contribution to science. GLOBE's unique global database holds more than 9 million student measurements of atmospheric, soil, land cover, biological, hydrological, and phenological data, all of which are universally accessible on the Web for research. Since it was initiated, the GLOBE Program has grown from 500 U.S. schools in 1995 to more than 12,000 participating GLOBE schools located in 101 partner countries today.

Figure 74 - GLOBE students

Figure 74. GLOBE students conducting hydrology measurements.

The International Division is responsible for the development and maintenance of the main GLOBE Website (excluding data visualizations), real-time GLOBE data acquisition tools, the central GLOBE database, and the mirrored GLOBE Web and database systems.

Accomplishments

Use of the GLOBE Website continues to grow in number, location, and human diversity. This is the primary site where science students go to enter their data and collaborate on a variety of projects, where the public goes to learn more about the program, and where users go to access the GLOBE database. Keeping the interests of the users in mind, the Web developers redesigned this site (incorporating constructive input from GLOBE Headquarters) to make the homepage cleaner and the overall site easier to navigate. Students and teachers are guided through introductory information by clicking on the "GLOBE Schools Log-in" link. Those being introduced to the concepts of GLOBE can quickly find more information via the "Learn About GLOBE" link, and repeat users, such as scientists and others in the general community, simply "Enter the Site." The overall appearance of the site was changed to blend consistently with the homepage.

In looking at ways to improve site performance and keep abreast of recent technology, the GLOBE team explored implementation of J2EE components (Java Servlets and Java Server Pages) into the site. As a case study, all of the content-rich pages of the site were imported into the database, code was developed that dynamically requested content, and then the Webpage was built through the Tomcat Servlet Container. The Oracle large object (LOB) support was examined to see how more content could be added into the central database. The GLOBE student investigation reports are now stored in CLOB columns (character large objects, ideal for large text strings) in the database.

The GLOBE data acquisition code base is contantly growing so that students, teachers, and researchers can continue to collect new datasets. GLOBE students can send their data via Web forms on the very interactive site or via an email message (typically used by schools wishing to report a lot of data at once). In 2002, tasks involved developing code for acquisition, processing, and storage of data from a digital multiple-day or single-day maximum/minimum thermometer, hummingbird observations (the first protocol to study animals), and phenological gardens.

In view of GLOBE's strong international roots, the GLOBE team is committed to having the Website translated into the six United Nations languages, and with interest shown in non-UN languages, these are being accommodated as well. In addition to Dutch and German translation accomplishments, a Japanese coordinator has begun translating the GLOBE site into Japanese the first Asian language. It is rewarding to participate in tasks related to displaying the first data entry pages in Japanese and foresee their completion in the coming year.

A separate, nonpublic Website allows GLOBE Headquarters staff in Washington, D.C., GLOBE partner groups, and country coordinators to track GLOBE workshop participation, school contact information, school reporting rates, etc. New interfaces were designed so that GLOBE partners can select and specify trainers for their own workshops based on the prospective trainer's experience and qualifications (for specific protocols), availability, and location. This information on the trainers is maintained at Headquarters along with another set of interfaces. The FSL GLOBE team enhanced and released a Web-enabled database query tool that allows Headquarters to look at any of the data stored in the central database without needing to know any database query languages such as SQL.

When running an operational system, the back-end systems require constant maintenance and upgrades to help ensure that they stay highly available and are kept current with the latest software technologies. Another accomplishment involved moving a significant fraction of our software and database files to a NetApp filer to centralize data storage and to improve I/O performance. Taking advantage of the "snapshotting" capability of the filer, we increased the uptime of the database for backups, and shifted from cold to hot backups so that the database does not need to be shut down as often as was required in the past. The Oracle database was upgraded from version 8i to 9i to enable the addition of more new features to the Website.

The Web servers also needed attention since all of our nonvisualization Web servers now operate on Linux platforms. Furthermore, the GLOBE training server that accommodates teachers at workshops uses a database that also runs on Linux. The German GLOBE Program was fully supported by helping them move their legacy GLOBE mirror server to a new platform. This operational mirror server can now run the entire Website, including the current visualization system. Though schools in Germany and the contiguous countries predominantly use the mirror, they may decide to convert this mirror to a failover for the mirrors located in the United States (FSL and NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center).

Projections

During 2003, the development tasks will continue commensurate with the evolution and growth of the GLOBE Program, as follows.

When the GLOBE science and education releases a GLOBE 2003 Teacher's Guide in the spring, many new protocols will be added. These include contrail observations, fire fuel ecology, ground surface temperature, freshwater macroinvertebrates, bird and seaweed phenology, and various modifications to the hydrology and land cover measurements. GLOBE staff will also continue encouraging schools to use automated data logging devices from providers such as HOBO, Davis, and AWS/WeatherNet. With a potential for the daily data ingest to grow by as much as a factor of 100 due to the 15-minute increment reports, steps will be taken to ensure proper storage handling for the additional data. A primary undertaking will be to complete the work to accommodate the new protocols which will allow entry of these new datasets.

The GLOBE Website will continue to be improved and made more user-friendly. Randomized "smart info" (e.g., "A GLOBE school in Sydney, Australia, reported the same temperature and humidity you reported on this day.") will be added to data entry verification pages to help ensure data quality while making the data entry process less repetitive to students. Another plan is to develop an interface whereby schools can upload images (such as data graphs and site photos) directly to the Website, at which time they could be approved before they are posted. Now is an appropriate time to redesign the "administrative" Website from the ground up. Years ago this site was designed for two or three users, but today its use is much more widespread — about 300 users in the large GLOBE partner community.

The mission-critical GLOBE database will continue to be modified and maintained as more data (quantity and type) are ingested from additional participating schools. With the upgrade to Oracle 9i software, spatial queries will be developed that help to improve visualizations by making them more GIS-capable. Also, with more complete XML support in Oracle 9i, GLOBE developers will need to familiarize themselves with the new version. Building on successful tests of migrating Website content to the database, the content will be placed into the operational database to centralize content management and make authoring and editing easier.

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Central Weather Bureau of Taiwan Technology Transfer
Fanthune Moeng, Project Manager

Objectives

FSL's collaboration with the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) of Taiwan has been a 13-year success story in technology transfer of weather forecasting applications. The CWB and FSL partnership has grown to include major initiatives for improving CWB forecasting capabilities. Together they have developed a series of PC-based forecast workstations, and the latest one — the Weather Information and Nowcasting System (WINS) — is now operational at the CWB Forecast Center. The system was incorporated into the CWB central facility including data sources, communication, preprocessing, and product generation. WINS provides data and products to outside users, including two universities, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Taiwan Hydrology Bureau.

The strong forecasting infrastructure that has been built at CWB includes greater data collection, improved observation systems, high-performance computing, and efficient management capabilities. CWB is positioned to generate new and more useful forecast products and take advantage of the more powerful techniques under development at FSL and other NOAA laboratories. The effectiveness of the CWB-FSL cooperation is based in large part on CWB's willingness and ability to develop and use customized products with associated technical support. FSL's mandate to provide useful technologies fits with CWB's real-world forecasting needs.

Accomplishments

In meeting the goals to improve forecasting capabilities at CWB during 2002, three major tasks involved:
  • Local Analysis and Prediction System (LAPS)
  • Forecast Assistant System (FAS)
  • Continuing interaction on earlier cooperative projects.

Local Analysis and Prediction System – The latest LAPS software code, run on Linux PCs, was delivered to CWB in December 2002. This software includes an improved cloud and precipitation analysis package as well as the MM5 model with the Hot Start code. The new data include visible data from the GMS satellite and multiple radar data (both Level II and Level III) from all four CWB Doppler radars at Wu-Fen-Shan, Haulien, Chi-Ku, and Kenting. FSL continued to improve the real-time LAPS running on systems at CWB and to provide support to CWB on the daily running of Taiwan's LAPS system. Last December, FSL also provided LAPS training at the CWB Forecast Center, working with forecasters there to define the CWB nowcasting procedure and use of the LAPS analysis field as well as the forecast fields. A scientist from Taiwan visited FSL for most of 2002 to help define the Taiwan Hot-Start MM5 domain. This visitor worked to stabilize the Hot Start scheme with improved cloud analysis for Taiwan, and to test its application under tropical cyclone cases with a bogus typhoon position. More detail on the LAPS analysis (example shown in Figure 75) and training materials can be found at Webpage http://laps.fsl.noaa.gov.

Figure 75 - LAPS Analysis over Taiwan

Figure 75. A LAPS analysis of surface wind and temperature at 0400 UTC
on 17 June 2003 over the Taiwan Central Weather Bureau domain.

Forecast Assistant System – Through this project, support continued toward upgrading CWB's WINS II system. FSL provided an upgraded AWIPS Build 5.1.2 with the upgraded GFESuite (Graphical Forecast Editor) software. FSL also provided D3D software to CWB for further evaluation and customization. Last October, FSL's Technical Lead for GFESuite visited CWB to provide extensive training to four forecasters on the use of GFESuite, including the spatial and temporal editors, grid manager, and the necessary steps required to create and execute smart tools. They worked with two developers from CWB, answered questions about GFESuite software, including the latest verion (RPP18), nd provided training on the use of Python for developing smart tools. A less technical seminar was presented to the CWB general audience on the functions and use of GFESuite.

Continuing Interaction on Earlier Cooperative Projects – Interactions continued between CWB and FSL on earlier cooperative projects. FSL provided relevant documents on the following topics: 3DVAR (three-dimensional variational data assimilation), RUC20 (the 20-km version of the Rapid Update Cycle model), FX-Net component, and FX-Connect (FXC) software and user guide. (For more information on FXC, refer to http://fxc.noaa.gov/fxcug/FXC_User_Guide.html.)

Projections

During 2003, the FSL-CWB joint team will focus on four ongoing tasks, as follows:
  • Activities related to the Local Analysis and Prediction System (LAPS)
  • Development of a Warning Decision Support System (WDSS)
  • Enhancement of CWB's current forecast workstation, WINS, including a new system called SCAN (System for Convective Analysis and Nowcasting), which will provide short-range forecasts of precipitation from remote-sensor observations
  • Interactions on earlier cooperative projects.

LAPS – FSL will focus on the 0 – 12 hour forecast, using the Hot Start implementation as part of CWB operations to ensure good cloud analysis with full radar coverage. The Hot Start technique will be applied using the balanced LAPS analysis on a forecast model for the Taiwan LAPS domain. LAPS training and technical support will be provided during the LAPS Hot Start runs at CWB.

WDSS – NOAA/NSSL will lead the effort of the development of a warning decision support system for CWB. NSSL will focus on refining the Vflo model, enhancement of QPE-SUMS, and radar data communication assistance. NSSL will also continue to assess and perform field testing to identify real-time simulation issues and further operational needs. Refinements will be made to the Vflo model, including improvements in the model physics and product display, the addition of new parameters, and the incorporation of improved GIS reference data.

WINS II/SCAN – FSL and CWB will collaborate to develop a strategy for the short-range forecasts of precipitation from remote-sensor observations using statistical extrapolative techniques. FSL will also support CWB in the porting of SCAN code to WINS II. The initial SCAN component will have a series of severe weather detection and prediction algorithms plus data integration techniques for CWB forecasters to use during severe weather warning operations.

Interaction on Earlier Cooperative Projects – FSL will provide technical support to CWB on GFESuite, D3D, and FX-Collaborate (FXC) software customization, so that CWB can include these components as part of WINS II.

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Korean Meteorological Administration
Forecaster's Analysis System
Fanthune Moeng, Project Manager

Objectives

The International Division is under agreement with the Meteorological Research Institute (METRI) of the Korean Meteorological Administration (KMA) to design a nowcasting system based on FSL's WFO-Advanced meteorological system. The development of an integrated workstation, the Forecaster's Analysis System (FAS), is the capstone of years of modernization at the KMA to provide better weather information to its citizens. The cooperative effort will be carried out by researchers and engineers from both organizations.

Accomplishments

In meeting the goals to improve forecasting capabilities at KMA during 2002, four major tasks were completed:
  • Upgrade of the FAS nowcasting system
  • Implementation of the Local Analysis and Prediction System (LAPS)
  • Implementation of the Mesoscale Analysis and Prediction System (MAPS) Surface Analysis System (MSAS) quality control and monitoring system
  • Provision for forecast training and risk reduction.

Upgrade of the KMA Nowcasting System – The FAS became operational at KMA and was also deployed at six Regional Offices in July 2002. A KMA visiting scientist worked with FSL staff to upgrade the FAS to the AWIPS 5.2.2 Build, and incorporated Korean menu changes (Figure 76) and necessary unit conversion changes to MKS units. FSL provided KMA with the AWIPS 5.2.2 Build, which is the latest and the last development version. This version has many new features and improvements, such as the ability to customize the AWIPS MSAS analysis to different localizations.

Figure 76 - FAS Display

Figure 76. Example of an FAS display with the Korean menu user interface.

Implementation of the Local Analysis and Prediction System – Over the past five years, KMA scientists have adopted three-dimensional analysis software developed from LAPS. The goal of this task was to implement the latest FSL/LAPS II analysis as an integral part of the KMA nowcasting system (FAS) so that forecasters could access LAPS II products through a single display system provided by FAS. The diabatic initialization capability (Hot Start) has been incorporated into LAPS to perform dynamic balance adjustment.

Regarding the Korean LAPS (LKAPS), the latest LAPS II software is running every hour, and the FAS development team is testing the integration of KLAPS with FAS. (More detailed LAPS analysis information and training materials can be found on Website http://laps.fsl.noaa.gov/.)

MAPS Surface Analysis System Quality Control and Monitoring System – MSAS provides accurate quality control (QC) for surface observations, plus timely and detailed gridded fields of surface variables. The AWIPS 5.2.2 version of MSAS has the latest implementation, including configuration files so that KMA can implement this QC software using KMA's surface observation data. With the assistance of FSL staff, a KMA visiting scientist was able to build and correctly install all of the AWIPS software including MSAS software at FSL. FSL staff also verified the test data from KMA, properly ran the MSAS with these data, and produced the correct outputs.

Forecast Training and Risk Reduction – During 2002, FSL hosted a training session for six KMA senior forecasters. Extensive training was provided on AWIPS, including case studies; demonstration and introduction of the Graphical Forecast Editor (GFESuite), MSAS QC, LAPS, FX-Collaborate (FXC), D3D, NOAA Profiler Network (NPN), and the GPS network; supercomputer, hydrological applications, and WRF introduction. They also visited a wind profiler at Platteville, Colorado, and the Boulder Weather Forecast Office (WFO), and participated in FSL daily weather briefings. One of the KMA visiting scientists wrote a paper titled "FAS: An International Version of AWIPS" and presented it at the Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society (AMS).

Projections

During 2003, the FSL/PG-NOW team will focus on four tasks: development of nowcasting techniques, QC and standardization of domestic remote sensing data, enhancement of the FAS, and implementation of the Automation of Forecast Preparation System (AFPS).

FSL staff will continue to train KMA forecasters on using the FAS, evaluate the proficiency of these forecasters, and identify areas for further training. FSL will work closely with KMA forecasters in developing their workstation skills and understanding of workstation use during various meteorological events. In particular, case studies will be reviewed in order to determine which meteorological fields enhance forecaster understanding for nowcasting and forecast purposes.

FSL and KMA will develop an Automation of Forecast Preparation System (AFPS) based on the AWIPS GFESuite software application. GFE is a graphical forecast support system used by NWS forecasters to improve the efficiency of generating forecasts. A goal of the AFPS is to minimize forecast preparation time and to maximize the forecasters' ability to interact with the data, thus allowing more time to focus on the science of forecasting.

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FX-Net Program
Renate Brümmer, Project Manager

Objectives

The FX-Net program was established to develop a network-based meteorological workstation that provides access to the basic display capability of an AWIPS workstation via the Internet. The design goal was to offer an inexpensive PC workstation system for use in a variety of forecast, training, education, and research applications not requiring the full capabilities of a WFO-Advanced type system. Although designed primarily for Internet use, FX-Net will also accommodate local network, dial-up, and dedicated line use. The system consists of an AWIPS data server, an FX-Net server, and a PC client. The FX-Net server is a modified AWIPS workstation. The server is locally mounted next to the AWIPS data server via a high-speed link. The FX-Net client sends requests for small-sized product requests via the Internet to the FX-Net server, which responds by sending the products to the client. The user interface of the FX-Net client closely resembles the AWIPS workstation user interface, except for reduced resolution and complexity to allow for rapid Internet response. Some of the FX-Net client functionality features include load, animation, overlay, toggle, zoom, and swap. Although the client Java application can be run on a number of standard PC platforms, the system performs best under Windows NT, Windows 2000, or Windows XP. The minimum client hardware configuration consists of a 500-MHz processor with 256-MB memory. Internet bandwidth down to 56 kbps is considered sufficient to transmit FX-Net products.

The available FX-Net products are categorized into four groups: satellite data, model graphics and observations, radar imagery, and model imagery. Wavelet transform is used to compress model and satellite imagery. The application of this relatively new compression technique is critical to the success of delivering very large-size imagery via the Internet in a reasonable amount of time. The small loss of fidelity in the imagery is acceptable in exchange for very high compression ratios. Processing time can be further minimized by pregenerating and compressing all satellite data on the FX-Net server side. In contrast to the satellite imagery, the radar imagery is encoded in a standard lossless image compression format (GIF) and the small-sized model graphics are represented in a standard vector graphics format.

Accomplishments

For the last few years, FX-Net had been supporting the AIRMAP (Atmospheric Investigations, Regional Monitoring, Analysis, and Prediction) Program. As a newly established Cooperative Institute between the University of New Hampshire (UNH) and NOAA, AIRMAP focuses on the long-term monitoring and forecasting of air quality parameters such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and low-level ozone. These pollutants can be hazardous to human health and other organisms when present in the lower atmosphere. Many of these chemicals are the result of burning fossil fuels, and are responsible for New Hampshire's high levels of acid rain. The primary mission of AIRMAP is to develop a detailed understanding of climate variability and the source of persistent air pollutants in New England. The availability of a real-time display workstation like FX-Net is very important to the program's success. The FX-Net team modified the existing real-time meteorological workstation by adding air quality-related datasets to the ingest and display system. A new FX-Net/AQ client was successfully released in July 2002, just in time to support the real-time forecasters who participated in the NOAA New England Forecasting Pilot Program: High-Resolution Temperature and Air Quality (TAQ) field experiment during the summer of 2002. AIRMAP was part of the TAQ field project.

The new FX-Net/AQ datasets include six parameters (O3, CO, NO, NOy, SO2, and condensation particles) that are continuously measured at three UNH sites (Mount Washington, Castle in the Clouds, and Thompson Farm) located in the state of New Hampshire (Figure 77). The FX-Net/AQ user also has access to the data from 13 wind profilers recently installed across the New England states. In addition, hundreds of new meteorological surface observation data, fixed buoy records, and ship measurements are available on the latest FX-Net menu. On the continental U.S. scale (CONUS), FX-Net displays the hourly average of the national EPA low-level ozone data. The FX-Net team is still working on the ingest and display of the MM5 air quality model, and once this task is completed FX-Net can truly be called a "real-time air quality workstation."

Figure 77 - U. New Hamp. Air Quality - FX-Net

Figure 77. University of New Hampshire air quality measurements
(lower right) using FX-Net.

The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) requested (in 2001) that FX-Net be modified to permit its use as the primary real-time meteorological workstation by fire weather forecasters at NIFC and at the Geographic Area Coordination Centers (GACC). The plan called for the FX-Net workstation to be used during the 2002 fire season on an experimental basis, with the FX-Net server located at FSL in Boulder. If the workstation was accepted by the fire weather forecast community at NIFC and GACC offices, the agreement called for the introduction of an operational solution for the 2003 fire season. Figure 78 shows an FX-Net display in a GACC room set up.

Figure 78 - FX-Net/GACC - Lakewood, CO

Figure 78. FX-Net display in the GACC map room at Lakewood, Colorado.

The FX-Net team added a variety of new functions to the FX-Net client with the goals of making additional products available to the fire weather community and adding new user-friendly tools to the client. One of the outstanding new datasets is a complete text browser that allows for the display of a large number of National Weather Service (NWS) forecast and discussion products. Additional new tools allow for the export of products displayed in the primary window, preference client settings rather than former changes to the configuration file, and the change of contour intervals for displayed model products. Another addition to FX-Net involves two special display scales, the Northern Rocky Mountains and Southern Rocky Mountains, used for viewing high-resolution satellite imagery in areas with high potential for wild fires.

As is now well documented, the 2002 fire season was one of the worst ever recorded for many states. The operational demand by NIFC and GACC forecasters for complete sets of meteorological products was paramount to support the issuance of the best possible daily forecasts. In response to the high operational tempo and requirements, the FX-Net team pursued every possibility to improve the reliability of all components of the system involved in the FX-Net data stream. Hardware was exchanged with newer systems, data streams rerouted, and multiple backup systems were installed. By the end of July, a significant improvement in reliability of the FX-Net-related systems was achieved, with reliability exceeding 98%.

The new list of fire weather products, the new functions added to the client, and the significant increase in reliability made FX-Net a truly functional fire weather forecaster workstation. It also resulted in very positive feedback from the NIFC management as well as from the GACC forecaster community.

Projections

University and Research – During 2003, the FX-Net team will continue to operate and maintain a system to support university meteorology classes and meteorological research at Plymouth State College in New Hampshire, University of New Hampshire, University of Northern Iowa, and Colorado State University.

Real-time Air Quality Forecast Workstation – FX-Net will increasingly focus on adding products to support real-time air quality forecasting.

Fire Weather Forecasting – Since FX-Net has become the primary meteorological workstation to support the fire weather forecasters in all national GACC offices and the NIFC headquarters in Boise, Idaho, many special products and functions will be added to the system as part of ID's continued support.

NWS: Western, Southern, Alaska, and Pacific Region – Early in 2003, four complete FX-Net systems will be installed at four NWS Regional Headquarters to support Incident Meteorologists (IMETs) in the field as well as to provide remote data collection offices with AWIPS-like products.

Additional information on the above FX-Net activities is available on
the International Division homepage (http://www-id.fsl.noaa.gov).

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The Wavelet Data Compression Initiative
Renate Brümmer, Project Manager

Objectives

After successfully applying the wavelet data compression technique to satellite imagery, the Wavelet Data Compression initiative was established to further investigate the possibility of using the technology for other meteorological datasets. Compared to imagery datasets, model datasets usually have higher numbers of dimensions, but each dimension is of much smaller size. Therefore, special treatments are needed to exploit the correlation among all dimensions. A multidimensional data arrangement and transform scheme have been developed to accommodate the special features of the model dataset. An experimental encoder and decoder package has been implemented to test various datasets with different standard waves and different posttransform compression algorithms.

Accomplishments

During 2002, much effort was dedicated to improving the existing wavelet compression code with the goal to achieve even higher compression ratios. The routine was also rewritten to improve its run time, an important aspect for all operational applications. A major milestone was achieved with the introduction of the so-called "precision-control," which allows users to define the acceptable maximum or average error for the compressed and reconstructed dataset. Extensive studies were conducted using the original Eta-12 forecast model (14 May 2002 1200 UTC run). For a predefined maximum temperature error of less than 0.125o K, this compression scheme achieved compression ratios from 17:1 (for the 1000-mb level) up to 80:1 (for the 100-mb level). The average compression ratio for this dataset was 50:1 (Figure 79).

Figure 79a - Compression Ratios and Average Errors

Figure 79b - Compression Ratios and Average Errors

Figure 79. a, top) The compression ratios for the Eta-12 temperature field at
different pressure levels with controlled precision (maximum error <0.125 K).
b, bottom) Average errors for the temperature field at different pressure levels
for the same compression ratios.

The average error reflects the overall quality of the reconstructed data. In this example, the average error was nearly an order of magnitude smaller than the predefined maximum error. This large difference between the maximum and the average error means that most of the grid points in the reconstructed field show an error much smaller than the defined maximum error.

The compression test was done on an 850-MHz Pentium III desktop computer. The average compression time to encode each field (2.5 MB) is about 2 – 3 seconds.

Compared to typical lossless codecs with the same precision requirements, this codec achieves 2– 6 times higher compression ratios. It implies that for a typical model output sized at 1 GB, if transmitted over a 1 Mbps communication channel, the transmission time can be reduced from about 2.8 hours to about half an hour.

The presented data compression scheme is asymmetric by nature, in that it takes more time to encode the data than to decode them. This is beneficial in the practical implementation, since there is usually more computing power in the encoding machine than in the decoding machine.

Projections

In 2003, continued development on the data compression scheme will focus on the following.

The approach to control the maximum round off error is computationally simple, or somewhat ad hoc. It is feasible with our current operational environment; however, an ideal algorithm should be able to find the best bits allocation that minimizes the maximum error. An efficient algorithm that can carry this out would be very useful both in theory and in practice. The vertically and timely adjacent frames are highly correlated. Current results only reflect the compression performance of this scheme on the two-dimensional field (in the horizontal plane). Three- or four-dimensional separable wavelet transforms can be applied to the volume data. To meet the robust (error propagation control) requirement, each partitioned group of coefficients can possibly be encoded individually into an independent bitstream to build a more error-resilient codec.

The above technology will feed directly into the project's workstation developments. Compression ratios of the above magnitude now allow for sending high-resolution forecast models (with typical model outputs sized at 1 GB and larger) via low bandwidth to an FX-Net or WorldWide Weather Workstation (W4) client in very reasonable amounts of time. This will make satellite broadcasting mechanisms (with a bandwidth of 128 kbs or less) for meteorological datasets feasible.

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