Web Watch

A current-weather site for specialists as well as generalists

The popular RAP Real-Time Weather Data site debuted before surfing the Web became a household activity. The site, hosted by NCAR's Research Applications Program, celebrates a decade on the Web this year.

"I started the site in 1994 to provide the weather community with graphics of data for which I already had a lot of software in place," says creator Gregory Thompson, an associate scientist with RAP. "I also learned Perl and a whole lot about the Web along the way."

region map

This radar mosaic for the northeastern U.S. paints a regional-scale picture of precipitation. (Image courtesy Gregory Thompson and RAP.)

Real-Time Weather Data offers a full spectrum of fundamental weather data resources, including satellite and radar imagery, maps of surface and upper-air data, and graphics created from data provided by the leading numerical weather models run at NOAA and NCAR. Along with national analyses, the site specializes in regional weather views, particularly for satellite, surface, and radar data.

Although the RAP site is aimed primarily at professional meteorologists, Thompson says that many other users benefit as well, thanks to relatively simple user interfaces and presentation methods. Each section of the site includes tutorial information via a "Page Info" button at top right, where users can learn how to interpret particular graphics, such as the colors used to denote cloud-top temperature on infrared satellite images.

Recent additions to the site include a completely revamped radar page, with plots of base reflectivity and velocity as well as regional views of a national radar mosaic furnished by UCAR's Unidata. (The article on page 1 includes more coverage of Unidata's involvement in radar data access.) Also, new regional surface maps with better data coverage along the southern Canadian border have been added, and surface maps from the past few hours can now be looped.

The site now draws roughly one million hits and 100,000 page views per day, with technical support volunteered by a number of Thompson's colleagues at RAP and elsewhere in NCAR. "Running a series of Web pages such as this is not a solo job," says Thompson.

real-time weather

NCAR Annual Scientific Report: Snapshots of a research year

For a quick summary of NCAR's activities in a given area of research, you'll be hard pressed to beat the NCAR Annual Scientific Report. Designed to be comprehensive yet readable, the report is produced by each of the center's science and service divisions and brought together by the NCAR Director's Office.

"The report has contributions from every scientific researcher at NCAR,"says Catherine Shea, executive administrator to NCAR director Timothy Killeen. Shea coordinates the months-long process to produce each year's ASR. Each report documents the activity for a fiscal year (October to September) and typically appears on the Web near the end of the respective calendar year.

The ASR is structured in several layers, allowing readers who have the time and interest to delve into progressively more detail. Each division's section has a director's message; a summary of outstanding accomplishments; a lengthier narrative on divisional activities, including education, outreach, and community service; and listings of publications, staff, and visitors. The text includes extensive links to models, instruments, and other relevant Web sites.

ASRs are available on line for years dating back to 1998. The URL structure has shifted from time to time, but each year links to the previous year's report.



Also in this issue...

A new line of research catches fire

NCAR reorganization plan moves ahead

Initiatives in Brief: Data Assimilation Initiative (DAI)

President’s Corner - Pathways to careers in the geosciences: GEO Forum 2004

Science Bit - Humidities drop while moisture climbs at upper levels

Science Bit - More evidence for snowball Earth

UCAR Community Calendar