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McIDAS 2003—Upgrade for a New User

In existence since 1973, McIDAS, SSECís first visualization software for the Earth sciences, long has been the tool of choice for organizations that use weather satellite data in research and forecasting. McIDAS, or the Man computer Interactive Data Access System, is still the most flexible software for displaying and analyzing weather satellite data.

SSECís McIDAS User Services team is supported by a network of users around the world, the McIDAS Users’ Group (MUG). MUG members receive software and documentation upgrades and help desk support throughout the year. The McIDAS User Services team keeps pace with users’ needs by fulfilling user requests and maintaining a wish list of longer range desires. By fulfilling these, McIDAS maintains a competitive edge

Each yearly McIDAS software upgrade addresses substantive user requirements. The 2003 upgrade includes changes to make McIDAS more responsive to user needs.

Long a strong tool for users of geostationary weather satellite data, this upgrade allows better handling of imagery from low-earth orbiting (polar-orbiting) weather satellites. Originally, McIDAS was developed for GOES data but is now used as easily with data from POES satellites as well as NASAís research satellites in the EOS series, Terra and Aqua. For example, a new LEO command finds and displays data from the nearest polar-orbiting satellite pass in time or space. U.S. Geological Survey topography files are now available for use.

Other changes in the 2003 upgrade also strengthen the system. Specific commands now acknowledge that people think graphically in RGB order rather than BGR (the original McIDAS order). Commands have been improved or added to derive total precipitation and other parameters. Flood warnings and watches have been added to the McIDAS graphics storehouse. NCEP fronts have been automated, and a wider range of model output statistics has been enabled and contouring has been improved. A new dataset structure for real-time grid data has been created that provides the user with complete access to all grid data coming from the NOAAPORT data stream without requiring knowledge of GRIB parameters. McIDAS now runs on AIX 5.1 and Linux remote servers are officially supported.

Best of all, an updated GUI (graphical user interface) is flexible and attractive. McIDAS has traditionally been a command-line system. The improved GUI makes it unnecessary to memorize commands, demonstrating a new level of improved customer service.

The most current information about McIDAS is on the McIDAS Users’ Group (MUG) Web site.

Direct comments, suggestions and inquiries to SSEC's Public Information Officer. For past features and columns, see SSEC's News page.

13 August 2003 TG/bk; rev. 18 August 2003