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
"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."
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
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
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.
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.