The Data Distribution theme area involves research focusing on identifying effective and efficient methods of quickly distributing and displaying very large sets of environmental and model data using data networks, using web map services, data compression algorithms, and other techniques. CIRA is engaged in a number of notable activities under this thematic research area at both the Fort Collins campus and the NOAA Earth System Research Lab in Boulder.
In Fort Collins, CIRA maintains the Data Processing Center (DPC) for NASA’s CloudSat satellite mission. Launched in 2006, CloudSat carries a nadir-looking 94 GHz cloud profiling radar that gathers information about the microphysical properties and vertical structure of clouds for climate and weather research. CloudSat flies in formation with the A-Train constellation of satellites which allows collocated and nearly-simultaneous observations of the atmosphere by the suite of instruments on each platform. The DPC is responsible for acquiring CloudSat data from the U. S. Air Force and selected data sets from the other missions to generate multi-sensor data products and distributing them to the scientific community. Success in this endeavour has allowed the DPC to take on other data distribution projects.
In addition to observing, assimilation, modelling, and high-performance/advanced computing capabilities, information systems are necessary and required to deliver environmental products ranging from local to global predictions of short-range, high impact weather and air quality events to longer-term intra-seasonal climate forecasts.
This research challenge includes identifying and developing new web visualization capability amidst the diversity of the types of data, information resources, and multiple standards that exist and the need for integrating these separate infrastructures to enable collaborative research across the various disciplines. Alongside ESRL/GSD scientists, approximately 25 CIRA researchers are striving to develop various state-of-the-art information systems and advanced workstation concepts, including an initial network-enabled Weather Information Database (WIDB) that will synthesize important NWS data repositories into a seamless virtual weather database that will support the ‘Common Weather Picture‘. The WIDB will be based on standard services and formats that will enable effective and efficient populating of the WIDB, exposure of information, and access to users. Our researchers are also developing the capability for NWS IT infrastructure to effectively and efficiently interface with FAA IT infrastructure.
Another major effort in support of the NWS and FAA involves the development of a 4-dimensional Weather Cube to house standardized weather information for integration into air traffic decision-support tools to improve the quality of weather products for the aviation community. In addition to our collaboration with ESRL/GSD, CIRA has recently begun collaborating with the NWS Aviation Weather Center (AWC) in Kansas City with an on-site research team to support the NextGen weather initiative via the Aviation Weather Testbed (AWT) in building the 4-D Cube, in addition to transitioning experimental FAA Aviation Weather Research Program algorithms to the AWC operational environment.
A third research thrust is to improve weather information for fire weather prediction; one component is the development and enhancement of an interactive, integrated GIS, weather, and fire information platform that would be available to fire incident commanders and firefighters in the field.