Unidata wins NSF funding for new weather forecasting tools
UCAR and seven other institutions have won a prestigious NSF grant to create a series of powerful tools for weather forecasters and the public. The project, known as the Linked Environments for Atmospheric Discovery (LEAD), will set up a network of high-performance computers that incorporates newly developed software to enable scientists, educators, students, and anyone interested in weather to gain new insights into storms. UCAR’s share of the grant is $1.8 million over five years.
“The goal is to provide on-demand computing for scientists and the public—anyone who needs more information about potentially hazardous weather systems,” says Mohan Ramamurthy, director of Unidata, which will develop many of the key technologies to enable users to access the LEAD environment. “This powerful tool will help researchers collaborate, and it will also provide forecasters with the newest technology to help them predict the path of a major storm.”
With LEAD, users will be able to share weather information across a supercomputer network on a real-time basis, and scientists at different sites will have the ability to work collaboratively over the phone on the same data files. A researcher who wants to simulate a particular storm will be able to build on data and models constructed by other colleagues, creating more accurate ensemble predictions.
Unidata will incorporate its integrated data viewer into the new system. This visualization tool will allow users to transform weather data that may be stored on remote and distributed computers into recognizable forecast maps.
Kelvin Droegemeier at the University of Oklahoma is the project director of LEAD. Oklahoma is a member institution of UCAR, as are four other universities participating in the project: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; University of Alabama, Huntsville; Colorado State University; and Howard University. A sixth, Millersville University of Pennsylvania, is a UCAR academic affiliate. The final participating institution is Indiana University at Bloomington.
LEAD is one of eight projects this year funded by NSF’s Information Technology Research program. Beginning 1 October, LEAD willreceive $2.25 million a year for five years, for a total of $11.25 million. •David Hosansky