Highlights, 2003

Compiled by Terri Gregory and Alexis Johnson with input from a host of others
Thanks to all SSEC and ASPT employees who provided highlights of their work.



When known, expert contacts are given in parentheses following an item. Otherwise, contact Terri Gregory. See director Hank Revercomb’s 2003 State of Center presentation for more technical highlights, additional contacts.

Auspicious Beginnings

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-12 replaced GOES-8 as GOES-East, on April 1, 2003, with much input from SSEC’s Data Center, CIMSS, and ASPT, the NOAA group stationed at SSEC who work closely with CIMSS researchers. Many products were made compatible and validated with new satellite instruments, for example, accounting for a different spectral band selection on the GOES-12 imaging instrument. See Research Progress for more.

GOES products

Scanning-HIS helped calibrate new Atmospheric InfraRed Sounder (AIRS) instrument, showing fantastic agreement, in terms of tenths of a degree K. Studies at SSEC comparing MODIS and AIRS also show excellent agreement.

AIRS data points (black) overlay S-HIS spectra (red).

Early SSEC studies show AIRS versatility. A CIMSS algorithm derived retrieval products from AIRS, processed from SSEC direct broadcast data in real time. (Elisabeth Weisz)

AIRS longwave emissions
AIRS measures Long wave emissions over the northern Sahara. Click for a comparison with short wave. (Youri Plokhenko)
AIRS retrievals

Data and Information

VisAD, an open source software suite developed at SSEC for the physical sciences, is used throughout the world, including by the Central Operations and Systems at the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology in Melbourne, Australia. (Hibbard et al.)

The 2003 McIDAS upgrade improved access to low-earth orbiting satellite data, including MODIS, and a more intuitive user interface. (MUG Support Group)

Among hundreds of uses around the world of the freely available software Vis5D is a chemical engineering project at the University of Iowa to forecast pollution as it moves through the atmosphere. (Hibbard)

The Image Composite Editor, or ICE, a new SSEC software tool, was featured in NASA’s Earth Observatory Laboratory section.

NOAA’s Aviation Weather Center’s Global Convective Diagnostic was tested with ten GOES-East image sets. (Dave Martin, Dave Santek, Rick Kohrs)

The National Weather Service Forecast Office, Sullivan, Wisconsin linked to the GOES Gallery presentation and Wetzel Seemann Ingredients for a February snow event across central Wisconsin. (Scott Bachmeier, Suzanne Wetzel Seemann)

SSEC cloud information was used in NASA’s 2003 calendar, Planet Earth: The View from NASA’s Earth Observing Satellites. SSEC’s and other data are presented in a composite image for December.


snow forecast

Education and Outreach


SSEC’s Office of Space Science Education reached over 2,400 K–12 students/teachers through 37 events in 2003! (Rose Pertzborn, Sanjay Limaye, Margaret Mooney, Kay Kriewald)

teacher workshop
OSSE teacher workshop participants and leaders Rose Pertzborn and Sanjay Limaye (mid-front row)

Twenty teachers from four different states visited SSEC in July for workshops on Satellite Meteorology and GLOBE, the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment program. (Limaye, Mooney, Pertzborn)

SSEC researchers and OSSE staff participated in many UW Speakers Bureau and Wisconsin Alumni Association On-the-Road events and shared their expertise with schools and other public groups throughout the year.


Wisconsin Weather Stories, an innovative program combining folklore and atmospheric science, was funded by The Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment. Aided by senior-level undergraduate students, teachers included weather stories in their curricula.

Weather Guys Steve Ackerman (AOS professor and CIMSS director) and Professor Jonathan Martin (AOS) appeared on WHA Radio all twelve months of 2003, covering subjects from lightning to global change.

High school students Ashley Minor, William Salinger, and Charles Rivenbak in NASA’s Summer High School Apprenticeship Research Program (SHARP) worked with SSEC scientists and technicians on their research. (Limaye)

Also see University Communications' release.

The UW–Madison 11th Annual Summer Workshop in Atmospheric, Earth, and Space Sciences was hosted by CIMSS, with the Environmental Remote Sensing Center and Departments of Geology and AOS, in July, for teachers and high school students from Wisconsin and beyond. (Maria Vasys, Leanne Avila, Tom Achtor, et al.)

summer workshop students

More than 100 Girl Scouts were helped to earn their weather badge in spring and fall workshops. (Margaret Mooney)

SSEC participated with its AERIbago in Science Expeditions, the first major event of the university’s new outreach group, Science Alliance. (Best, Olson, Holz, Hackel, Gregory)

The sixth Suomi Scholarships were awarded to four outstanding Wisconsin high school seniors: Kevin A. Eichinger, Jenna M. Helbing, Amanda Kis, Theodore V. Lyons III.

OSSE ensured the inclusion of the international GLOBE program in the 90th Indian Science Congress held in Bangalore, and Sanjay Limaye became the third-generation scientist in his family to present a paper there.

OSSE encouraged and trained students at Gallaudet Model Secondary School for the Deaf in Washington, DC. They provide data to the GLOBE program using sun photometers. (Limaye)


SSEC hosted Lawrence M. Krauss, Physics of Star Trek author, at a UW Space Place public lecture. (Limaye)

OSSE held a 3-week PEOPLE program on Aviation and Space. (Limaye, Mooney)

New satellite meteorology lessons on CD were presented and well received at the annual convention of the Wisconsin Society of Science teachers. (Mooney)

Java applets developed for educational use were provided to the Teacher Resource Kit produced by the International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange. (Steve Ackerman, Tom Whittaker)

CIMSS/ORA conducted a training seminar at the BoM in Melbourne, Australia and a course in remote sensing at Curtin University in Perth, Australia.

L.Krauss at Space Place
Physics of Star Trek author Lawrence Krauss addresses a SRO crowd at Space Place.

Manatee and airatee software was used in classrooms around the world to illustrate multispectral investigations of land, ocean, and the atmosphere.

Sanjay Limaye manned the “Ask A Scientist” booth at the National Science Teachers Association meeting in Philadelphia.

SSEC and NOAA researchers gave free monthly public lectures at UW Space Place. Topics included GOES research, working in Antarctica, Neptune and Mars, and weather satellites.

Glenda Chui, award-winning science writer for the San Jose Mercury News, lunched with SSEC employees. Chui covered prelaunch Space Telescope issues, particularly testing.

manatee screen
Also see slide 97 of State of Center speech, PowerPoint version.

Innovative Collaborations


Advanced Satellite Aviation Weather Products (ASAP) project combined efforts of SSEC, especially CIMSS and the Data Center; the National Center for Atmospheric Research; the Federal Aviation Agency; NASA; NOAA; and the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) in an effort to develop and demonstrate methods to infuse current and advanced satellite-data analysis techniques into systems designed to increase aviation safety and to have pilots use satellite information. (Wayne Feltz)

global convection data

The ECMWF began operationally using Imager clear-sky data from GOES-9, 10 and 12.

clear-sky image

UW–Madison’s Arctic High Spectral Resolution Lidar helped calibrate NASA’s Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) on ICEsat that is studying changes in polar ice thickness and extent. (Edwin Eloranta)

ICEsat image
ICEsat image courtesy Jim Spinhurne, NASA

By drilling holes for ice cores, SSEC’s Ice Coring and Drilling Services helped scientists of the International Trans-Antarctic Scientific Expedition gather information on Antarctic ice and climate.

A diagnostic package developed at the UW is being transferred to the National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). (Donald Johnson, Todd Schaack, Al Lenzen)

The 3rd GOES Rapid-Scan Winds Experiment (GWINDEX-3), part of The Observing System Research and Predictability Experiment (THORPEX), was coordinated by CIMSS researchers and NOAA’s Forecast Products Development Team in the winter of 2003. GOES wind measurements were produced in real time and disseminated with model runs of the CIMSS Regional Assimilation System (CRAS) to National Weather Service forecast centers and to experiment planners.

AMRC began decoding Dutch AWS observations in real time, along with U.S. (UW–Madison), Italian, and AGO.

Researchers served on two National Research Council panels. Satellite Observations of the Earth's Environment urges that NASA and NOAA, who commissioned the report, work more closely together to expedite the transfer of research advances into operational forecasting use. The second seeks to ensure the usefulness of weather satellite data. (Chris Velden, Allen Huang)

GOES imagery and fire products were provided to NOAA’s Aeronomy Laboratory for a smoke analysis and transport study to determine sources of the smoke and to examine possible lofting mechanisms. (Elaine Prins)

The AMRC provided data and imagery to participants in a NASA field experiment, a collaborative study of Antarctic glaciers between NASA and Chile.

Wind measurements were derived from GOES-12 Super Rapid Scan Operations (SRSO) for the Atlantic THORPEX Regional Campaign (A-TreC). (Velden)

wind vectors in THORPEX

SSEC’s Scanning-HIS also participated in the A-TreC THORPEX mission in Hawaii, to help evaluate the performance of new MODIS and AIRS instruments. The team also contributed to forecasting and flight planning.

SHIS THORPEX measurements

CIMSS’s GOES biomass burning monitoring team started collaborating with the National Center for Atmospheric Research to properly assimilate the GOES fire products into the EPA’s Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) Model to study regional air quality in the Amazon Basin to support the SMOCC (SMOke aerosols, Clouds, rainfall and Climate) research program.


With NOAA’s Office of Research Applications, calibrations for NOAA’s Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometers were rederived, to make post-launch calibrations more accurate and provide consistent results. (Jelenek (NOAA/ORA), Heidinger)

The AMRC contributed to analyses of models that forecast Antarctic wind movements.

The Regional Air Quality Modeling System (RAQMS), a collaboration with NASA Langley, is shown to be a valuable Tool for End-to-end test of observation validity and impact, and a great connection for our GOES Ozone work. (Bryan Baum)


The GOES biomass burning group supported a multinational effort to study air pollution in megacities around the globe. The MIT-led Integrated Program on Urban, Regional, and Global Air Pollution focused initially on Mexico City.

smoke in Mexico City

SSEC and the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences collaborated in a New Rooftop Instrument Suite that takes numerous atmospheric measurements from the top of the Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences Building that the two groups share. The Web site was released publicly in June. (Grant Petty (AOS), Ray Garcia, Fred Best, many others)

Tom Whittaker was asked to serve on the Steering Committee for Unidata’s VisAD-based Integrated Data Viewer (IDV) to help guide its future development.

CIMSS and NOAA’s ASPB hosted a workshop in August at SSEC to begin planning for and developing new satellite products and presentation formats for current and future satellite data for weather forecasters in the field. (Jeff Key, Gary Wade)


In the Limelight

Researchers talked with representatives from and their work was featured in local and national media, including Time magazine, Japanese and Italian television, Canada’s educational and Aboriginal Peoples’ television stations, The Antarctic Sun, Weather Notebook radio show, WHA, WORT, and Canadian radio, United Press International, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin State Journal, the Houston Chronicle, Aviation Week & Space Technology, the London Times, the New Scientist, Science News, Sky and Telescope, and a host of Web sites. (not a comprehensive list)

Astronomy magazine rated images of Neptune’s changing seasons among the top 25 images taken with the Hubble Space Telescope.

The Schwerdtfeger Library’s unique Bentley ice crystal online image collection was featured in On Wisconsin and included in the DLESE Reviewed Collection.


Ernie Mastroianni, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel photojournalist, included ICDS in an article about the giant IceCube hose reel.

Giant hose reel fabricated at PSL. Michael Forster Rothbart

WORT-FM, Madison’s local public access radio station, interviewed AMRC’s Matthew Lazzara live from Antarctica in January.


A MODIS image from SSEC’s direct broadcast facility showing southwestern dust spreading from the Southwest to the Midwest made it across the U.S.

dust, MODIS image

AWS and AMRC staff helped host a congressional delegation from the House Science Committee including Sherwood Boehlert, committee chair. Visit the Web site for more pictures of life and work in Antarctica, and icebergs. Mostly icebergs. (M. Lazzara, G. Weidner, J. Thom, S. Knuth)

bergs meet
C-16 and B-15J Meeting Point. Brian Barnett, The Antarctic Sun

The SSEC global montage is used on more Web sites and in more publications than can be tracked.

global montage

The Antarctic Kiosk, a NASA-supplied display, at the International Antarctic Center, Christchurch, NZ featured the AMRC and the data it provides, under “Forecasting Now and Then.”

SSEC, especially CIMSS and the Data Center, provided imagery to numerous publishers and media outlets.

Momentous Occasions


Hurricane Isabel became a showcase for the CIMSS Tropical Cyclones group’s new and developing analyses techniques; they sent real-time satellite products to the National Hurricane Center and the Satellite Analysis Branch to help track the storm; scientist Jim Kossin found structure (mesovortices) he’d hypothesized in the hurricane’s eye.

Hurricane Isabel showing star-shaped center
DMSP image of Hurricane Isabel on September 12, clearly showing the “starfish” pattern in the eye, caused by six mesovortices—one in the eye’s center and five surrounding it.

The Schwerdtfeger Library held an open house Tuesday, 2 December 2003, to celebrate and demonstrate renovations, including the installation of new compact shelving.

The 2003 AMS annual meeting was memorable for SSEC presenters and exhibitors. Researchers gave many papers and posters and chaired group meetings, hosted numerous visitors to the UW–Madison booth, drawn in part by Oscar Mayer wiener whistles given away at the booth as well as satellite images suitable for framing.

The Board of Directors for SSEC’s Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) met in Madison and provided proceedings on CD for the first time.


SSEC exhibit booth
Russ Dengel, Fred Mosher (NOAA), Denise Laitsch in SSEC’s exhibit booth. In larger image are also Wayne Feltz and Tony Wimmers. Terri Gregory

Research Progress

Polar scientists analyzed 17 years of data and showed that clouds over the Arctic regions “and the climate conditions with which the clouds interact produce a cooling effect, possibly offsetting to some degree the effects of global warming in this region.” (Xuanji Wang, Jeff Key)


Convective cloud initiation studies showed significant progress. (Kris Bedka, John Mecikalski)

  • Combined both infrared and visible analysis techniques to produce the first convective initiation nowcasts at 1 km horizontal resolution.
example, nowcasting algorithm
  • Utilized wind measurements derived from visible, infrared, and water vapor satellite imagery to assess cloud-top temperature trends in moving cumulus clouds. The ASAP group is one of the first to diagnose cloud-top trends associated with moving clouds.
cloudtop cooling trends
  • Developed a “convective cloud mask” using 1 km resolution visible data for cumulus clouds. The cumulus cloud mask is the foundation of the convective initiation algorithm. The mask identifies only the cumulus cloud pixels. All other pixels—80-90% on an average day—are excluded from the image, enabling the system to run at least ten times faster than if the entire image had to be processed, with cirrus, stratus, fog, and clear pixels, which are all irrelevant to the process of thunderstorm development.
cloud mask
  • Provided advance notice of the onset of convectively induced precipitation by using simulated GIFTS data to monitor in real time how ice forms in the tops of clouds

This work was funded by NASA’s New Investigator Program and the convective weather portion of the ASAP initiative.

CIMSS and ASPT researchers made available a variety of products and procedures for the reactivated GOES-9, including sounder-derived products and wind measurements. Sounder products now available from Japan to Maine.

total precipitable water

An unusual summer ozone feature was found in GOES-10 and 12 Sounder ozone estimates, in a relatively cool July. (Chris Schmidt, Jun Li)

GOES Sounder research products were produced routinely over the western Pacific. Sounder products were made available from 3 GOES satellites. (T. Schmit et al.)

A unique combination of LIDAR and AERI water vapor profiling data along with GOES satellite imagery was used to examine boundary layer cloud structures. (Wayne Feltz, Dave Turner, Kris Bedka)

CRYSTAL experiment data provided first use of high temporal resolution data (that is, as often as every 40 seconds) in boundary layer research. (Mecikalski, Bedka, Turner, Feltz)

Cloud-top information was routinely produced from the new GOES-12 Imager. (Tony Schreiner)

The spectral bands of the next generation geostationary imager were both refined and simulated.
(T. Schmit)

ozone feature

To simulate infrared channels on the next series of Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) imagers, the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI), SSEC provided an in-house beta broadcast of Atmospheric InfraRed Sounder (AIRS) data, from NASA’s Aqua satellite.

AMRC began a fog climatology for McMurdo Station (Lazzara)

The European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) began to assimilate band 3 data from the GOES imaging instrument into their forecasting system, thanks to CIMSS.

Successful efforts in 2003 to validate the WildFire Automated Biomass Burning Algorithm included observing agricultural burning in western Brazil in the state of Acre, comparison with a product by Brazil’s INPE, and a study with Environment Canada/Meteorological Services/Quebec Region that shows the usefulness of diurnal remote sensing fire products in remote areas at northerly latitudes.

CIMSS compiled and archived a five-year set of cloud information from GOES Sounder radiances, making it possible to review interannual diurnal trends of cloud properties.

Windco, software at the core of SSEC’s abilities to deduce wind measurements from satellite information, was completely revised, representing a major project achievement. (Gail Dengel)

GOES fire product

The CIMSS real-time MODIS polar-winds product became part of ECMWF’s operational weather forecasting system and a first step was taken in transferring the product to operational use in the U.S. by transferring the software to NOAA’s Forecast Products Development Team to run the code in parallel with CIMSS.

A 2003 analysis of ABBA fire products for June through October 2002 showed that the amount of burning during the 2002 fire season in South America was more than 25% higher than observed in 2001 and 50% higher than 2000.

MODIS polar winds over the Arctic on April 25, 2003. The wind vectors are derived from a triplet of orbits and plotted on the infrared image of the middle overpass. Wind vectors are categorized as low, middle, and high for display purposes.

Produced Hourly Clear Sky Brightness Temperature information for Imager instruments on GOES-9, -10, and –12.

The CIMSS albedo product, based on AVHRR satellite imagery, compared well with actual measurements taken on the Greenland ice sheet, as evaluated by the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University. The mean difference between the satellite-derived and surface-based albedos was found to be near zero.

To increase model accuracy, the CRAS team devised a technique to include multilayer clouds using the GOES sounder instrument. (Bob Aune, Tony Schreiner)

An algorithm using satellite data was developed to determine cloud type on a global scale. (Michael Pavolonis, Andrew Heidinger)

MODIS cloud-top pressure and total precipitable water measurements were used to initialize water vapor and clouds in the CRAS to model Antarctic weather, changing forecasts significantly. (Bob Aune)

U.S. Navy Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center asked for CIMSS’ MODIS polar winds data in real time. (Chris Velden, Dave Santek, Jeff Key)


The hourly cloud-top product from the GOES sounder became assimilated into the model used routinely by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). (Tony Schreiner, Tim Schmit, Bob Aune)

Researchers observed a sulfur dioxide (SO2) plume from the active Soufriere Hills volcano on Montserrat Island in the West Indies as it erupted in July and found good agreement between a set of AIRS channel differences with estimates from TOMS data provided by S. Carn of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, while validating the AIRS instrument.

Regression retrievals were improved by assigning realistic surface temperatures to profiles. (Suzanne Wetzel Seemann, Eva Borbas, Allen Huang, Jun Li)
AERI regression analysis

Cloud phase and overlapping clouds are being identified with MODIS data. (Bryan Baum, Paul Menzel, and graduate students Greg McGarragh (UW/AOS), Shaima Nasiri (UW/AOS)

A study to assimilate GOES brightness temperatures in numerical weather prediction models was submitted posthumously for first author Bill Raymond. (Gary Wade, Tom Zapotocny)

Assimilating Cloudy GOES Imager Observations into the CRAS showed improved GOES Correlation for more than 48 hours.

Scanning-HIS proved a new capability—scanning from 14 km on board the NASA Proteus aircraft both upward and downward. See slide 72 of 2003 State of the Center message.



cloud phases

In rapid-scan mode, the AERI showed rapidly developing cloud features. Slide 74 of the 2003 State of the Center message shows how AERI measurements compare with lidar and radar. The red dots in the graph show previous information the AERI collected.

High-temporal resolution AERI data from CRYSTAL experiment was used for the first time to show storm development in the boundary layer (close to the ground). See slide 75, 2003 State of Center message. (J. Mecikalski, K. Bedka, D. Turner, W. Feltz)

Service and Honors

AERI measurements

Charles “Chuck” Stearns, Professor Emeritus in UW–Madison’s Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and a senior SSEC scientist, was elected a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society.

Steve Ackerman and John Knox (formerly of UW–Madison’s Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences) won the Talbot Prize, which recognizes visual excellence in learning materials Meteorology: Understanding the Atmosphere.

Jun Li was named “guest chief scientist” in satellite atmospheric sounding by China’s National Satellite Meteorological Center, the first scientist outside the center awarded this title.

Graduate students working in CIMSS’ Tropical Cyclones group received AOS awards at the department’s awards day, April 30: Robert Wacker, the Schwerdtfeger Award for excellent performance in first year graduate studies; Gregory Gallina, the Lettau Award for outstanding MS Thesis.

The Goddard Space Flight Center presented NASA’s Group Achievement Award to SSEC scientists Hank Revercomb, Steve Ackerman, Dave Tobin, and Paul Menzel for “Outstanding Teamwork” toward the success of the Earth Observing System Aqua Mission Team. Aqua was launched 16 May 2003. The researchers contributed expertise toward the satellite’s MODIS and AIRS instruments. (Hank Revercomb, Steve Ackerman, Dave Tobin, Paul Menzel)

Chuck Stearns, AMS Fellow

Tom Whittaker received Unidata’s DeSousa award at the 2003 AMS meeting, honoring his more than 20 years working with the meteorological software user community.

Acting Team Leader Jeff Key was named Team Leader of NOAA’s Advanced Satellite Products Team, the branch of NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service research group stationed at UW–Madison.

Christopher Velden received the Hagemeyer Award sponsored by the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorology within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for his work to improve hurricane forecasts through weather satellite research.

Jeff Key, team leader of the ASPB, represents the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service on a newly formed committee to coordinate NOAA activities in the Great Lakes region.

“Validation of Satellite AIRS LST/LSE Products Using Aircraft Observations” was named best of approximately 90 oral presentations given at the 2003 International TOVS Study Conference. (Robert Knuteson, Brian Osborne (formerly SSEC), Henry Revercomb, David Tobin, William Smith (retired, NASA’s Langley Research Center))

Allen Huang agreed to cochair a new conference, The Atmospheric and Environmental Remote Sensing Data Processing and Utilization: an End-to-End System Perspective, within the 49th annual meeting of the Society of Photo-optical Instrumentation Engineers in 2004.

Grace Wahba (Statistics and SSEC) was named one of the 29 most cited scientist authors in the world.

Sharing Information

Tom Whittaker with award

A. Monaghan and D. Bromwich verified their El Niño model with Jeff Key’s extended Polar Pathfinder data set derived from Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer satellite data. They found significant differences in modeled cloud amounts over Antarctica between the 1997/98 El Niño and the 1998/99 La Niña summers.

CIMSS and SSEC’s NOAA researchers collaborated with Doris Rotzoll of the National Weather Service Spaceflight Meteorology Group at Johnson Space Center in Houston in providing meteorological data to aid in Space Shuttle Columbia debris recovery efforts and to help determine weather conditions before and at the time of the loss.

The World Meteorological Organization Bulletin published “A Survey of Tropical Cyclone Forecast Centres - Uses and Needs of Satellite Data.” (C. Velden)

SSEC’s direct broadcast facility provides MODIS data to scientists throughout the U.S., including UW–Madison’s Environmental Remote Sensing Center, who are using MODIS data from SSEC’s along with Landsat data to track lake clarity.

Upon the passing of William “Bill” Raymond (February 5, 2003), a volume of his works was placed in The Schwerdtfeger Library.

Scientists Wilt Sanders and Sanjay Limaye and Bob Paulos, A3RI executive director, stressed the importance of moving forward after the tragic loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia crew.

Many, many important papers were published and presented throughout the year in journals and at scientific conferences.

cloud cover, El Nino vs. La Nina

SSEC Data Center provided worldwide turbulence, wind, and convection information for commercial aircraft to Honeywell’s Weather Information Network, in addition to the base product, infrared composites.

global cloud cover
Click for animated infrared imagery that covers 2-1/2 days using all geostationary satellites and NOAA AVHRR data to cover the poles.

For the second year, SSEC employees volunteered to forecast for hazardous weather—lightning, excessive heat, high winds, and heavy precipitation—during University of Wisconsin home football games.

McIDAS team members provided interesting weather data to local media. (Dave Santek, Scott Lindstrom)

Researchers in CIMSS and the ASPT gave lectures on remote sensing in Maratea, Italy in May that produced new collaborations on cloud studies.

CIMSS hosted a three-day workshop called “Sounding from High Spectral Resolution IR Observations” in May 2003, bringing together statisticians and atmospheric scientists from universities around the world, NASA, NOAA and Europe’s EUMETSAT.

Researchers received benefit of the GOES biomass burning group’s alpha-blending technique among them Reno’s Desert Research Institute for the Biscuit Fire Complex and the Universidade Federal do Acre - Parque Zoobotânico for fires in Rondonia, Brazil, and Bolivia.

southwestern fires.

The Schwerdtfeger Library’s collection of ice crystals was added to the Reviewed Collection of The Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE).

Congressional science committee staffers were treated to a special movie showing progressive averaging for GOES Imager infrared images presented by UCAR’s Rick Anthes.

A veritable fleet of new SSEC and CIMSS Web sites was unveiled in June.

Fire products for September and October using the WF_ABBA technique were integrated into a real-time Web site to provide insight on the impact of fires on regional air quality for NASA’s Langley Research Center for a multi-agency air quality assessment and forecasting demonstration project.

SSEC editors for the Journal of Applied Meteorology accepted, rejected, or transferred 28 manuscripts. (Cameron Smith, Dave Martin)

A combined Antarctic interests meeting, and the 21st for the AWS program, was held in June in Madison. The Antarctic Automatic Weather Station (AWS) program, the Antarctic Meteorological Research Center (AMRC), and users and developers of the Antarctic Mesoscale Prediction System (AMPS, NCAR and Ohio State University) met to discuss common interests and for status reports on their programs.

Sanjay Limaye, SSEC planetary scientist, spoke about Neptune to the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers.

SSEC Infrastructure

ice crystal

SSEC’s budget grew substantially. (SSEC annual spending picture)

Three new members joined the SSEC Council: SSEC Senior Scientist Allen Huang, astrophysicist Wilton Sanders of Physics and SSEC, and Computer Sciences Professor Jeffery Naughton.

A3RI (Antarctic Astronomy & Astrophysics Institute) was reorganized under the Graduate School. IceCube became an NSF Major Research Equipment Project, with Jim Yeck as Director.

SSEC annual spending

Compact, power assisted, movable shelving was installed in the Schwerdtfeger Library, unveiled at its 25th Anniversary.

Library, new shelves
Dan Bull of The Schwerdtfeger Library with new shelving. Maciek Smuga-Otto

Human Resources handled a huge load with efficiency and panache. Besides hires, the team processed about 100 rate and title changes, visa applications and changes, and paperwork for people leaving SSEC, besides the normal workload of a steadily growing center. (Sally Loy) (hires picture)

The number of Purchasing orders increased by 47 percent, and the dollar volume increased 634 percent over two years! (Judy Cohen, Gretchen Fitzgerald, Mike Dean)

SSEC’s Technical Computing group recorded 3,070 requests completed, with about equal number of walk-ins (~20/day), and processed them with aplomb.

Nearly every hall and stairwell in the entire 16-story building got a fresh coat of paint.

hires table

ICDS settled into 333 N. Randall, after refurbishment—It was cleaned and repainted, new networking and phones were installed, and light fixtures were changed to more efficient lighting. (333 N Randall picture)

SSEC’s network was upgraded for both research and daily computing activities, including the new Randall Street location.

While computer viruses and internet worms may be widespread problems elsewhere in the world, SSEC’s TC group kept the wolf from the door.

Almost all the windows in the AO&SS building were fitted for storm windows that were installed as part of the Wisconsin Energy Initiative (WEI).

Also for the WEI, electricians made many wiring changes.

  • They pulled out all the old network cables and installed lights and more power outlets in the wiring closets in preparation for the new 21st Century Network.
  • To lower energy costs substantially, they rewired all the HVAC controls, to allow remote control from a computer at UW–Madison’s Physical Plant by Metasys, a Johnson Controls Building Automation System.
  • A temperature sensor was installed on the building roof to monitor all campus building heating systems.
333 N.Randall St.

Long suffering and patient inhabitants of rooms 611 and 613 endured a downpour from a leaky pipe in 7th floor plumbing. SSEC’s technical staff fixed the underlying problem.


In a big move from its old DOS-based system to a modern looking Windows environment, SSEC Accounting deployed the first tools accessible through the new interface on 10 November 2003.

UW–Madison’s Why?Files unveiled a CIMSS-developed “make-your-own tornado” in Twister.

10,096 of The Schwerdtfeger Library’s records were cataloged in MadCat.

Technological Advances

SSEC began efforts for pipeline processing of GIFTS/GOES-R high resolution infrared data, a Smart Data Access System for GOES-R, and an in-house effort towards a future McIDAS.

The Enhanced Hot Water Drill project team was able to assemble and test the 50 ton Drill Supply Hose Reel, through the combined efforts of staff from SSEC, PSL, Bit7, and Triad. It left for the South Pole in November for January assembly at the South Pole. (Mark Mulligan) Also see 2003 State of Center message, from slide 77.

M.Mulligan, big hose reel
Project manager Mark Mulligan with Drill Supply Hose Reel. Terri Gregory

In development since 1970 and first used to display and analyze satellite data in 1973, SSEC’s McIDAS is still used by meteorological agencies around the world to display and manipulate weather data. It is believed to be the world’s longest continuously supported software.

McIDAS 30-yr logo

ICDS supported five projects in Antarctica with 14 people in total: IceCube and AMANDA, SPRESO (South Pole Remote Earth Science Observatory), U.S. ITASE, and international collaborations in Queen Maud Land with German drillers and at Dome C with Danish drillers.

In severe winter weather in December, both GOES and POES data were lost to SSEC, because of a bad cable on the antenna feed. Technician Dave Jones risked frostbite in single-digit weather on the building’s roof when he replaced the cable, keeping data loss to a minimum.

Ice3 and ICDS crew with hose reel

McIDAS-V began development, based in VisAD via Unidata’s Integrated Data Viewer (IDV).

The AWS installed a new Seismic Array on Iceberg C-16 to monitor the collisions between tabular icebergs.

SSEC’s Data Center assisted in the transfer of Pacific Ocean geostationary weather satellite coverage from GMS-5 to GOES-9. SSEC acquired and displayed images via the AMC-4 communications satellite, provided them to the National Climatic Data Center, and continued to receive and archive GOES-9 data.

McIDAS-V screen shot

The ICDS seismic Shot Hole Project proved it could drill down to 75-plus meters. Also see 2003 State of Center message, from slide 77.

shothole drill at work

A new Automatic Weather Station (AWS) and Global Position System unit were deployed on B-15A iceberg, shortly after it broke in two.

McIDAS-X was made to run on MAC OS X, v10.3 Panther.


AWS serviced

Viewing the Earth and Planets


SSEC and JPL planetary scientists analyzed Hubble Space Telescope images to find seasonal variations on Neptune, to much applause. See slide 91 of State of Center message In PowerPoint, use notes view.

MODIS images from SSEC’s Direct Broadcast Facility were published throughout 2003 on NASA’s Earth Observatory Web site, the Natural Hazards email publication, in NOAA’s Operational Significant Events Imagery, on the Environmental Remote Sensing Center’s lake water clarity modeling Web site.

Neptune, 2002

AMRC discovered another new iceberg, C19-B, splintered from C-19. AMRC also was first to see C-19A break into three more pieces, and among the first to see the mammoth B-15A break in two. (Shelley Knuth, Matthew Lazzara, Linda Keller(AOS))

SSEC’s MODIS direct broadcast facility captured clear images of Wisconsin’s change of seasons from summer to fall. The images were seen on NASA’s Web site, The Weather Channel, local (Madison, WI) TV, and Albuquerque, NM TV.

GOES) Wildfire Automated Biomass Burning Algorithm (WF_ABBA) fire products documented the progress of the California fires near Los Angeles and San Diego in the fall.

C19-B iceberg

During a rare solar eclipse over Antarctica, the ASPT helped make MODIS data available to post on the AMRC Web site.

The National Weather Service Office in Sullivan featured an SSEC MODIS image of haze over Wisconsin, apparently from Russian fires, as Top News of the Day on May 7.

Famous Volcanoes, Global Submit, and other Web sites asked to link to SSEC’s Volcano Watch page.

MODIS image, solar eclipse

In Neptune, ground-based Keck telescope shows even more infrared detail than Hubble Space Telescope. See slide 92, State of Center message, PowerPoint version.

More highlights can be found in Hank Revercomb’s 2003 State of the Center presentation.

Neptune through Keck telescope

30 April 2004, rev. 6 May 2004 SSEC's Public Information Officer