About That New Satellite

With the the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) satellite launched successfully yesterday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, satellite users will want to begin thinking about getting up to date on NPP at the AMS Annual Meeting. Here’s a quick link to the dozens of upcoming AMS Annual Meeting presentations related to the satellite and JPSS in general.
In particular consider attending the Tuesday (24 January,; 8:30 am) panel on “Expected Improvements from Satellite Technology on Operational Capabilities at the NWS, Navy, and Air Force.” The participants are the heads of those respective forecasting agencies–Jack Hayes, Fred Lewis, and James Pettigrew. AMS’s William Hooke moderates.
Also, on Monday (23 January at 11:45 am) Mitchell Goldberg et al. of the JPSS program will describe NPP and its place in the overall JPSS mission (the Joint Polar Orbiting Satellite System, is the civilian-side successor to NPOESS, which was the National Polar-Orbiting Environmental Satellite System). NPOESS was canceled in 2010.
Meanwhile, until we meet in New Orleans, here’s context about how the mission has evolved with the cancellation of the NPOESS. And here’s a NASA video describing NPP’s mission and capabilities:

Further, you’ll find a wealth of information about the NPP satellite and its genesis in the overall architecture of NPOESS, described in BAMS last year. The meeting program has more specifically about the five major instruments aboard, VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite; described here in BAMS), CriS (Cross-track infrared Sounder), ATMS (Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder), OMPS (Ozone Mapper Profiler Suite), and CERES (Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System; description in BAMS here).
We’ll undoubtedly post more about specific satellite-related sessions at the 2012 Annual Meeting in New Orleans as we approach January.

Python in New Orleans: Once Bitten, Quickly Smitten

The upcoming 2012 AMS Annual Meeting in New Orleans is only the second with a whole symposium devoted to the use of Python programming language in the atmospheric sciences. The first was last year’s meeting in Seattle.
The quick return of Python to the conference program–including beginning and advanced short courses over the weekend (21-22 January)–suggests what a growing community of modelers and programmers already knows. Once they’ve encountered the Python language, people tend to become devotees.
“Python is an elegant and robust programming language that combines the power and flexibility of traditional compiled languages with the ease-of-use of simpler scripting and interpreted languages,” according to Filipe Pires Fernandes of  the School of Marine Science and Technology in New Bedford, Massachusetts, who presents Monday (23 January, 2 p.m.).
Python, for example, is at the heart of the National Weather Service’s graphical forecast editor (GFE) tool and thus at the basis of the usage of the whole gridded forecast product suite in effect over the last decade. “Python’s introspective capabilities permitted developers to build a tool framework in which forecasters could write simple expressions and apply them directly to the forecast process without the burden of needing to know details about data structures or user interfaces,” writes Thomas LeFebvre of NOAA, who will discuss (Tuesday, 24 January, 8:30 am) how “a large part of GFE’s success is the result of the rich set of features that Python offers.”
Symposium Chair Johnny Lin of North Park University produced a short video to explain the attraction of Python, now the “eighth most popular programming language in the world” and preview the upcoming symposium:

The symposium program features numerous new software packages, with many of the presentations demonstrating how Python is a solution to software quirks and limitations that have become more bothersome as technology advances. One presenter is using Python to display data and model output on Google Earth. Another developed a new Skew-T diagram and Hodograph visualization and research tool (SHARPY), recasting a standard program, SHARP, in Python. Explains Patrick Marsh of NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory: “Unfortunately, SHARP utilizes several GEMPAK routines which makes compiling, let alone installing and using, a non-trivial task.”
Andrew Charles of the Bureau of Meteorology in Australia used Python to create a web-based tool to integrate contour plotting with GIS applications. “With ever increasing amounts of data being made available, the related increase in required storage means static plots are not a viable solution for the delivery of all maps to end users,” writes Charles about his (11:30 a.m. Tuesday) presentation. “Contour plots are one of the most used data visualisation techniques in meteorology and oceanography and yet, surprisingly, there are few available solutions for the generation of contour plots to be used as map overlays from live data sources.”

Beacons Will Light Up New Orleans

by Ken Carey, Chair, AMS Membership Committee

On behalf of the Membership Committee, I am writing to encourage you to nominate as “Beacons” members of the AMS Executive Committee, Council, Commission, Boards and Committees for service during the upcoming 92nd AMS Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The New Orleans meeting will be the second annual meeting at which Beacons will be present. By of explanation, here is an FAQ about the Beacons program:

What is the Beacons Initiative? The AMS Beacons program began in 2011 as an initiative of the Membership Committee and is firmly rooted in former Executive Director Kenneth Spengler’s legacy of fostering the AMS as an open, inclusive, and welcoming organization. The Beacons program is an ambassador program with a “member-staffed goodwill cadre” reflecting AMS’ initiatives to serve its existing, returning, and potentially new members.  AMS Beacons serve at the pleasure of the AMS Executive Director, and assist with Society and membership-related functions as deemed necessary or appropriate at AMS annual, STAC, and local chapter meetings and other functions.  Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines the word beacon as “a source of light or other signal for guidance; a source of light or inspiration.”  This adequately describes what Beacons aspire to be and why the current Beacons have chosen to participate.

Why do we need AMS Beacons? The AMS is the nation’s premiere professional organization in the meteorological and related sciences. It is a broad but close-knit community of weather enthusiasts, researchers, forecasters, practitioners, educators, and students, all working to advance the atmospheric and related sciences, technologies, applications and services.  Preliminary findings from AMS surveys and membership committee activities suggest that some members within our community are: (1) unaware of the full value of Society membership, (2) uncertain of or dissatisfied with the value of the membership, or (3) feel disconnected from the broader Society activities.  Feedback from some members and non-members also indicates that there is a perception that the Society is aloof, elitist, or academic-centric.  While these perceptions do not reflect the majority of viewpoints, they do represent a significant number that could adversely affect AMS membership and its growth potential. The Beacons Program is a “grass-roots” initiative at very minimal cost to provide resources and “friendly-faces” at the annual meeting and other functions with the goal of connecting and retaining current members, encouraging new membership, and reclaiming past members.

What will Beacons do at the Annual Meeting? Beacons will serve throughout the week making themselves available to answer questions about the Society and to visit with and assist participants as needed throughout the week. Beacons will have a significant presence at the New Attendee Briefing on Sunday, will be stationed at key locations (e.g., registration area, entryways, meetings with large gatherings, etc.), and informally greet and assist as they move throughout the venue during the week. Beacons will serve as a volunteer, complementary resource to the AMS staff and will be properly trained on what questions and information should be referred to AMS staff members.  In order to be easily recognized, Beacons will wear bright yellow (i.e., as in “Beacon of Light”) lanyards with AMS blue lettering. Additionally, signs, social networking media (e.g., the AMS Facebook site or Twitter) and future blog postings will notify attendees of the presence and function of AMS Beacons.

How does someone become a Beacon? This is where we are hoping for your involvement. Beacons are:  (1) full Members in good standing with AMS, (2) relatively knowledgeable of AMS policies and procedures, (3) open to meeting new people, and (4) willing to donate a few hours of their time at the annual meeting as needed.  In addition, Beacons should be individuals who are comfortable with discussing issues regarding the Society with Annual Meeting participants as appropriate.   If you are interested in volunteering as a Beacon, or in nominating a member of your Commission, Board, or Committee, or other worthy individual to be a Beacon, please contact Beth Farley ([email protected]) by November 1, 2011. Please include contact information for yourself or your nominees as well as a brief statement as to why the person is being nominated as a Beacon.

What happens after the Annual Meeting in New Orleans? After the 2012 AMS Annual Meeting, the membership committee will review the effort to compile a set of “lessons learned.” This information will be used to further develop and refine the fledgling Beacons program.

Bridging Disciplines: Joint Sessions at the 2012 Annual

by Ward Seguin, 2012 AMS Annual Meeting Chair
For many years, organizers of the Annual Meeting have encouraged conferences to join forces to host joint sessions for the purpose of sharing presentations of mutual interest.  A few years ago, organizers of the Annual Meeting proposed themed joint sessions that focused on the theme of the Annual Meeting.
Concerned that conferences participating in the Annual Meeting might not understand the purpose of joint sessions and, in particular, themed joint sessions, this year’s organizers decided to start the planning process early. At the 2011 Annual Meeting in Seattle, organizers for the 2012 meeting met with all of the conference committees holding meetings in Seattle to encourage future participation in the themed joint sessions.  This was followed by e-mail contacts in February designed to reach those conference committees not present at the Seattle meeting.
In April, the conferences were asked to propose themed joint sessions focusing on  AMS President Jon Malay’s 2012 theme of “Technology in Research and Operations–How We Got Here and Where We’re Going. The response from the conferences was outstanding, as 20 themed joint sessions are currently being organized. With so many conferences holding meetings in January, themed joint sessions encourage sharing of information among the government, academia, and the private sector in diverse subdisciplines. Participants are able to share their experiences of common problems and solutions, and attendees are able to take in papers related to the theme without having to move from one session to another.
Because the 2012 Annual Meeting theme is so broad, the range of topics being covered by the joint sessions provides an excellent opportunity for diverse conferences to come together. For example, one session–jointly hosted by the 10th Conference on Artificial Intelligence Applications to Environmental Science and the 18th Conference on Satellite Meteorology, Oceanography, and Climatology–is titled  “Artificial Intelligence Methods Applied to Satellite Remote Sensing.” Another themed joint session, “Recent Advances in Data Management Technologies and Data Services,” will be hosted by the 28th Conference on Interactive Information Processing Systems (IIPS) and the Second Conference on Transition of Research to Operations:  Successes, Plans, and Challenges. Still another session will focus on “Extreme Weather and Climate Change” and will be hosted by the Seventh Symposium on Policy and Socio-Economic Research, the 24th Conference on Climate Variability and Change, and the 21st Symposium on Education.
The format of themed joint session will include distinguished invited speakers, panel discussions, and submitted papers. Jon Malay’s chosen theme is allowing some very diverse conferences to focus together on some of today’s research and operations challenges through technology.
The deadline for abstract submissions for these sessions is August 1, and abstracts can be submitted on the AMS website at the abstracts submissions page.