Yes, We've Got Maps

This point was made at Monday’s Presidential Forum, where Dr. Richard Jackson of UCLA was talking about how much our scientific community offers to the world of public health, and how we might best be able to move decision makers to action based on climatic information.
It is good news. Nobody makes maps more eagerly than meteorologists.
Hardly a session goes by at the AMS Annual Meeting without some sort of map—often of some unexpected variable. For example, today at 10:45 a.m. (Skagit 4), Yonghua Wu (City Univ. of New York) and colleagues pull together trajectory modeling, lidar ceilometer, and satellite observations to map air quality variations due to the interaction of boundary layer conditions with wildfire smoke plumes this past summer over New York City.
blog_logo_final_all_caps_updateThen on Thursday (1:45 PM, Tahoma 2), you can map the New York City area again, in a completely new way: Sina Kashuk of NOAA shows spatial density maps of the 5 million flood-related phone calls across the five boroughs.
Using the top 25 most frequent complaint types ranging from noise to rats, the overall propensity of calling was estimated and mapped. This map was then used to normalize the flood-related complaints. The temporal-spatial analysis was highly correlated with monthly rainfall intensities.
Clearly, no place is mapped in one particular way. Maps say as much about the data and the analysis as about the specific location. Mapping is thus an essential tool for coalescing, analyzing, contemplating, and communicating observations.
Harvard historian Peter Galison takes this point a step further in his studies of the history of observing as evinced by map-making. Through a selection of atlases across the centuries, all made by scientists, he shows how the powers of observation and the expectations and capabilities of science are all intertwined, and all evolving. The idea of observing itself is not the same today, he shows, as it was in Newton’s time or even in Einstein’s. In this lecture from 2011 he uses the atlases to trace the history of objectivity itself in mapping:

Which brings us warily to the title of a presentation this morning (8:30 AM, Room 611) , “Beyond Maps-How Cloud Computing Enables the Future of Geospatial Analysis Services.” Presenter Steve Kopp of ESRI explains:

[W]e now see a technology transformation that is enabling deeper understanding, and will lead to new insights and new discoveries. Early adoption of geospatial cloud computing focused on organizing and sharing data….Map services (a picture of the data) are symbolized data ready to view, and require fewer specialized skills than working with raw data such as GRIB files. More recently organizations have begun providing weather and climate data services. These are feature services like WFS and image services like WCS. Data services allow customization of the symbology and more flexibility in visually combining with other data, but also can be used for analysis allowing the user to ask new questions with the data. The transition to data services feeding into analysis services will have a profound impact on the utility and growth of geospatial cloud computing.

Perhaps someday historians will see this AMS Annual Meeting as a part of shift that led the way to yet another stage in the growth of science itself.

The Paths to Observing Are Paved with Innovation

Every journey begins somewhere—sometimes all you need to do is start heading down a path.
blog_logo_final_all_caps_updateThis year AMS Past-President Fed Carr has given our Annual Meeting a destination: a comprehensive consideration of our observing needs. He’s also given us a place to embark on our journey: the Presidential Forum this morning (9 AM, Ballroom 6ABC) in which moderator Vanda Grubišić and her distinguished panel take us on a guided tour of our community’s capabilities and a glimpse of the multidisciplinary realms just beyond our reach.
He’s given us everything but the actual path. That choice is yours.
One option that beckons right from the Forum is the path of innovative platforms and systems that continually expand the ways we observe. It’s a path that travels across land, through air and water. It requires vehicles of all kinds and sizes, and takes your quest through every byway of modeling, theory, services, products, and yes, even observations, in search of our observational needs for the future .
Let’s look at a few of the milestones along the path of alternative observing, if you choose to take it.
Roadways themselves are paths, of course, and the Annual Meeting will showcase the new ways roads are a vital part of observing. On Tuesday (9:15 AM), Jeremy Paul Duensing of Schneider Electric will examine the success of Alberta Transportation’s road weather sensor network. One of the largest intelligent road observing systems in North America, this network features sensors taking 100 readings per second directly on vehicles.
Also on Tuesday, at 9:30 AM, Amanda Anderson of NCAR will review the Wyoming Department of Transportation’s project to collect weather (and other) data from internet-connected vehicles traveling on the state’s portion of I-80, which is prone to all sorts of hazardous conditions from blizzards to wildfires.
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma DOT combines a roadside weather information system with modeling and GIS visualization software to monitor road icing hazards. Benjamin Toms of the University of Oklahoma will discuss this system on Tuesday at 11:15 AM.
Our emerging technologies pathway extends skyward, too. On Wednesday at 9:45 AM, learn more from Djamal Khelif of the University of California, Irvine, about the Controlled Towed Vehicle (CTV), which utilizes improved towed-drone technology to measure spatial and temporal variability of sea surface temperatures, wind, temperature, and humidity, as well as turbulent air-sea fluxes from observations made as low as eight meters.
Range into space as well—you no longer need big, complicated satellites to get there. On Wednesday at 8:45 AM, as William Blackwell of MIT Lincoln Laboratory explores the capabilities of CubeSats in microwave high-resolution atmospheric remote sensing. James Clemmons of The Aerospace Corporation will investigate the potential uses of CubeSats in space weather research on Monday at 4:30 PM .
The path even extends onto and into the water. On Monday at 4 PM, Maricarmen Guerra Paris of the University of Washington will review a project that utilizes ferries equipped with Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers to provide full-depth profiles of currents and distinguish tidal currents adjacent to Puget Sound.
The Annual Meeting is full of such unconventional paths—paths of invention paving the way to observation. It’s time to make the choice and your journey.