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Data Delivered

Terri Gregory, Editor

September 2004

Also In the News...

Engineering Feats

Field Experiments

Science Experts

Weather Events

Weather Research

Education, Honors, Outreach

This issue of In the News covers SSEC news and events from June–August 2004. Also see Hurricanes. Use images freely with credit to the Space Science and Engineering Center, University of Wisconsin–Madison. Pieces in this issue were written by Terri Gregory or Jennifer O’Leary unless otherwise noted.

In the News
SSEC’s Data Center is providing special data products to the new Prada boutique in Los Angeles. SSEC’s products depict global cloud movements using water vapor imagery and animated wind streams on the U.S. west coast, updated every three hours and hourly, respectively. The Data Center has agreed to provide the products for 18 months, about through 2005. Joakim Dahlqvist, an architect working on the store, treats the products as art, and said they “would be displayed on portrait format LCD screens throughout the space” to “connect it to the outside world in various ways.” The store is designer Miuccia Prada’s latest and is the work of Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas (Vogue, August 2004).

Water-vapor-based Earth image from weather satellite data

University Communications’s publications office used an SSEC image on a presentation folder for UW–Madison’s new Office of Corporate Relations, which devotes much of its time to connecting businesses with relevant university research groups. Barry Carlsen designed the cover with the image displayed prominently at the top. The image, produced by Rick Kohrs of the McIDAS Users Group, used GOES-12 visible and infrared imagery and a topography map from NASA and shows Hurricane Isabel on September 14th, 2004, when it was classified as a category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of 160 mph.

The image simulating all 16 spectral bands of the GOES-R Advanced Baseline Imager was featured in the GOES-R Program Weekly Status Report for June 11, 2004. Mat Gunshor (SSEC) and Tim Schmit (NOAA’s ASPB, at SSEC) produced the image from data they simulated to represent what the imager will produce.

Mark Seeley, climatologist at the University of Minnesota, gives weekly commentary on Minnesota Public Radio’s Morning Edition. In his July 16 “Word for the Week,” he uses SSEC’s satellite imagery to illustrate CONUS.

Roland Stull, formerly a professor in UW–Madison’s Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, now in the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of British Columbia, is writing a third edition of his book, Meteorology for Scientists and Engineers (Brooks/Cole Thomson Learning). A new section on satellites will include McIDAS images from SSEC.

Philip Belz keeps SSEC’s global montage image on his computer desktop at home, and says, “I have looked at this on several active desktops for several years. I keep it on my 30" TV at home.” He was understandably dismayed when SSEC had trouble with its server in August. He and several other users said they could not get to their favorite images. Everything should be back to normal now. User feedback is always appreciated.

JWM Productions in Maryland is producing an educational video series for children and will use an image of North America from SSEC’s Web site.

McIDAS Users Surveyed—More than 50 users responded to a survey on McIDAS functionality released this summer. McIDAS program manager Dave Santek said that “The results of the survey have helped us to prioritize the work needed to prototype interfaces, as we continue to study a transition of McIDAS-X to a Java-based environment.” More on the survey results and the status of the study will be presented at the McIDAS Users Group meeting in October.

McIDAS Lite, an SSEC software package, has been added to Linux Links, a huge agglomeration of informative links of interest to users of Linux, a free version of the Unix operating system. McIDAS Lite is a “free image viewer that provides a simple tool for working with image files that are in McIDAS area or MODIS HDF format.”

Engineering Feats

The Coldest Thing—The USRA Researcher features SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy, in its Summer 2004 issue. “SOFIA’s First Light Instruments” focuses on Facility-class Science Instruments, three of the nine to be flown on the aircraft. Each instrument looks at a different part of the infrared spectrum. This first group of instruments is designed to be used by guest investigators who do not necessarily have “extensive experience in infrared instrumentation or observing techniques.”

The High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera (HAWC), whose PI is Doyal Harper with the University of Chicago, uses an adiabatic demagnetization refrigerator (ADR) provided by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. A key component of the refrigerator is the salt pill, produced by SSEC. The ADR cools an array of bolometer detectors to 0.2 K, to keep them functioning properly. According to Tony Wendricks, who helped design and build the salt pill, the ADR will be the coldest manmade object in space.

The USRA Researcher is a publication of the Universities Space Research Association.

Field Experiments and Meetings

Using Geostationary Weather Satellite Data to Monitor Fires Globally, by Elaine Prins—Geostationary systems have an important contribution to make to active fire and smoke detection and characterization with applications in fire management, emissions and air quality studies, and global change research and they can provide valuable diurnal information that complements fire products produced by higher resolution polar orbiting instruments. This is the final assessment of participants in the Integrated Global Observing Strategy Global Geostationary Fire Monitoring Applications Workshop held recently at the EUropean Organization for the exploitation of METeorological SATellites (EUMETSAT) in Darmstadt, Germany. Workshop participants felt that a global geostationary fire monitoring network is technically feasible, but that it must be supported by operational agencies to sustain the activity and produce standardized long-term fire inventories of known accuracy. To demonstrate the science and show the benefits and feasibility of a global geostationary fire monitoring network, a demonstration/feasibility project was planned. The NOAA/NESDIS Office of Research and Applications (ORA) and SSEC’s CIMSS will adapt the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES-10/-12) Wildfire Automated Biomass Burning Algorithm (WF_ABBA) to the European Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager (SEVIRI), with an experimental version to be in place by June 2005, followed by adaptation of the WF_ABBA to the Japanese Multifunctional Transport SATellite (MTSAT-1R) after launch. The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL-Monterey) will demonstrate the impact of assimilating all available global geostationary fire products (GOES, MSG, MTSAT-1R) into the operational Navy Aerosol Analysis and Prediction System (NAAPS) to diagnose and predict aerosol loading and transport.

The workshop and proposed demonstration study address requests from the international environmental monitoring and scientific research communities to utilize operational satellites to produce routine global fire products and to ensure long-term stable records of fire activity for applications in areas such as land-use and land-cover change analyses, global change research, trace gas and aerosol monitoring, air quality, and hazards. Fires and emissions affect local and regional weather as well as climate and can have a significant impact on transportation. Participation in this effort emphasizes NOAA’s commitment to the Integrated Global Observing Strategy and highlights significant research and operational activities in global fire monitoring within NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service.

NOAA’s Fourth Hyperspectral Workshop, by Jennifer O’Leary—From August 17–19, fifty participants from government organizations, academia and various private sectors converged on Madison to discuss and attempt to understand all potential uses for hyperspectral data. Hyperspectral sensors capture an object’s spectral signature (its unique spectra) using its reflected solar radiation and so can determine material composition. Many uses for these sensors have already been devised: those involved in agriculture can determine soil quality and predict crop yields; they help the military detect soil disturbance and aid in target detection; and these sensors have many uses in various areas of environmental research. Workshop participants accomplished their main goal, “to explore broadband adequacy versus hyperspectral necessity for environmental characterizations,” as well as several others. These include: updating Radiative Transfer (RT) in both the visible/near infrared and the infrared portions of the light spectrum, working to understand the roles of LEO and GEO in their various applications, and familiarizing participants with the tools used to analyze and visualize hyperspectral data. By the end of the workshop, the participants had developed a list of recommendations that serve to further understanding in the area of hyperspectral data.

AMS Meeting—Of about 200 presentations to be given at the AMS Satellite Meteorology meeting in September in Virginia, 47 of them have authors in CIMSS or the Advanced Satellite Products Branch (the NOAA/NESDIS group at SSEC). To find them, at the AMS Web site, click on Meetings Information, then Upcoming Meetings. Select 13th Conference on Satellite Meteorology and Oceanography and find Programs and Links to Abstracts.

WSGC Annual Meeting, by Alex Harrington (AOS and CIMSS) and Terri Gregory—The 14th Annual Wisconsin Space Conference was held August 19–20 at the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse to present student research and education and outreach projects, all funded by the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium, a NASA funding arm. Undergraduate and graduate students (both M.S. and Ph.D.) from throughout Wisconsin presented a wide variety of research in the life and physical sciences, all related to space. Alex Harrington received an undergraduate scholarship award for his interests and academic excellence in the field of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. Harrington also received an award for his ongoing undergraduate work in validating satellite forecast imagery used in the CIMSS Regional Assimilation System (CRAS) against actual Geostationary Orbiting Environmental Satellite (GOES) imagery. Harrington will present his research at the 15th Annual Wisconsin Space Conference in Madison next summer. A wide range of outreach and education topics were presented, from experimental rocket and balloon launching, to an educational, astronomical character-based science play. Margaret Mooney, of SSEC’s Office of Space Science Education, summarized her experiences giving the CIMSS Summer Workshop and Satellite Meteorology Workshop for Teachers. Also of note were addresses given by Dr. Joy Crisp, “Mars Exploration Rover Science Highlights,” and Dr. Kimberly R. Kuhlman, “From Mars to Atoms to Tumbleweeds and Back.”

Bangalore Conference—The Conference on Space Science, Applications, and Commerce held in Bangalore, India to foster collaboration between the United States and India is now available in streaming video. Rose Pertzborn, director, SSEC’s Office of Space Science Education, and SSEC scientist were cochairs of portions of the conference.

Science Experts

Aligned with Policy—In light of NASA’s intentions to transform their agency’s structure to align with President Bush’s new policy, a UW news release announces that the University is already essentially in alignment. Hank Revercomb and Wilt Sanders (also with the Department of Physics) are both listed as experts to talk about their NASA-sponsored research.

Weather Events

Madison’s Tornado—On June 23, for the first time people can remember, a tornado of F-1 strength touched down on Madison’s west side. No lives were lost but many trees were downed, including around the homes of SSEC employees and colleagues in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science. CIMSS researcher Scott Bachmeier made a loop of infrared GOES satellite imagery to show the severe storm. Meteorologically speaking, Bachmeier said, “looks like a classic ‘low-topped’ convective event—cloud tops struggled to reach -50 C over the Madison area, and no ‘enhanced-v’ or other exciting IR signatures.” The movie from visible imagery is more exciting, perhaps, but is dark, showing the coming of night.

Weather Research

CIMSS’s Star Rises—In May, the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) in SSEC were told they’d received an additional $2.5 million to cover research over the next few years. CIMSS is SSEC’s largest individual unit and is responsible for most atmospheric science research in SSEC. The additional funds cover research into developing instruments and software for developing geostationary and polar-orbiting weather satellites, a CIMSS specialty. According to NOAA’s May 6 release, the cooperative agreement between UW–Madison and NOAA “strengthens a partnership between UW and NOAA’s Satellites and Information Service to use satellite data from the agency’s … geostationary and polar-orbiting spacecraft to better understand environmental trends and the effects of clouds and radiation.” The funding announcement was made prior to the CIMSS five-year review, held in Madison in August, when NOAA officials visited Madison for an in-depth study of CIMSS research and administration. Preliminary indications are that CIMSS passed with flying colors.

MODIS Winds Used in Forecast Models—Polar winds generated by NESDIS using observations from the MODIS instrument on the Aqua satellite were shown to have a positive impact on forecasts from the Global Forecast System. The June 2004 Joint Center for Satellite Data Assimilation JCSDA Quarterly newsletter described results of impact studies using the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) polar winds product in the National Centers for Environmental Prediction Global Forecast Model. These are preliminary results; tests to quantify the impact will continue. Working on the polar winds project at SSEC are Jeff Key (NOAA, at SSEC), Jim Jung (CIMSS, in Washington), Tom Zapotocny, Dave Santek and Chris Velden (all of CIMSS), and J. Daniels, (NOAA/NESDIS).

Scientists in the Numerical Weather Prediction Division of Beijing, China’s National Meterological Center will test the impact of the CIMSS MODIS polar winds product on forecasts in their experimental assimilation system. They expect to have results within nine months.

Research—This spring, SSEC Webmaster Bill Bellon released the newly designed SSEC Research page. Bellon said, “Each research project is now listed, regardless of whether they have a Web site, and each research project has a short description page that gives background information in a consistent format.” If you know of SSEC research that is not listed in the research listings, and would like to know more about it, contact Bill.

Data Fusion—CIMSS continues to help with the development of a new IDEA for air quality monitoring. Their contribution is referenced in a feature on the NASA Website’s Earth Observatory. CIMSS makes multilayer air pollution maps available to local forecasters.


CIMSS’s Xuanji Wang and NOAA’s Jeff Key coauthored papers on Arctic climate, which the Journal of Climate will publish in a two-part series. The Journal of Applied Meteorology printed the late Dr. W.H. Raymond’s final article on satellite data assimilation in their August 2004 issue.

“Recent Innovations in Deriving Tropospheric Winds from Meteorological Satellites” was accepted for publication, subject to minor revision, in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. The paper was coauthored by Christopher Velden (CIMSS), Jaime Daniels (NOAA/NESDIS), David Stettner (CIMSS), David Santek (CIMSS), Jeff Key (NOAA/NESDIS), Jason Dunion (University of Miami), Kenneth Holmlund (EUMETSAT), Gail Dengel (CIMSS), Wayne Bresky (Raytheon) and Paul Menzel (NOAA/NESDIS). The paper describes several new innovations in satellite-produced wind technologies, derivation methodologies, and products.

“Improvements of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES)-R series for climate monitoring” was submitted for NOAA’s 29th Climate Diagnostics and Prediction Workshop to be held 18–22 October, 2004, in Madison, WI. Authors are Timothy Schmit, W. Paul Menzel, James Gurka, and Elaine Prins (all with NOAA/NESDIS), and Mathew Gunshor and Jun Li (CIMSS).

Education, Honors, Outreach

July Outreach Activities—In July, SSEC held educational outreach activities for a number of groups. Margaret Mooney organized a meteorology section for the UW Alumni Association’s popular Grandparents University. Twenty alumni and their grandchildren made barometers, learned about satellites, and took part in a Magical Mystery tour of the Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences Building given by Terri Gregory, SSEC’s public information coordinator. Mooney’s Satellite Meteorology Teacher Workshop drew 17 teachers from 5 different states and 5 from S. Africa. A GLOBE Teacher Workshop brought in 14 teachers from 4 different states to learn how to implement the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment program in their schools. The annual CIMSS Workshop for High School Students drew nine students from four different states to participate in a week-long program of interactive earth science activities.

CIMSS summer workshop participants and Margaret Mooney (lowest) at Devil’s Lake, learning about Wisconsin geology

UW at the Fair Day—As reported in the July “In the News,” groups from the Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences Building participated in UW Day at the State Fair. A number of building participants are included in UW–System’s photographic highlights. Shaima Nasiri took the picture of UW–Madison’s mascot Bucky Badger and SSEC’s AERIbago. Nasiri, a Ph.D. candidate in AOS, explained AERI science to fair goers along with Robert Knuteson, SSEC scientist. John Short drove and gave tours of the ’bago. A last minute change in plans changed the Weather Guys booth to Weather Women, ably staffed by Amanda Adams, AOS Ph.D. candidate; Margaret Mooney, a meteorologist in SSEC’s Office of Space Science Education; and Kathy Strabala, a researcher in the CIMSS MODIS group. Also see the Fair through SSEC photographers’ eyes.

New CliC Project Chair—Jeff Key, team leader of the NOAA group stationed at SSEC, was named the new chair of the Observation Products Panel (OPP) within the World Climate Research Programme’s Climate and Cryosphere (CliC) project. The CliC OPP maintains expert knowledge on the current and past states of the cryosphere as part of the climate system, based on available observations. CliC addresses the entire cryosphere (i.e., snow cover, sea-, lake- and river-ice, glaciers, ice sheets, ice caps and ice shelves, and frozen ground including permafrost) and its relation to climate. It also maintains expertise in the techniques that have been and are being used to observe climatically important aspects of the cryosphere. Since Key was named chair, the group proposed an IGOS Theme on Cryosphere, in collaboration with the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR). The IGOS Partners endorsed the proposal and approved the development of a full-fledged Cryosphere Theme document. Key will chair the writing team for the Cryosphere Theme document.

Thanks to Chris Velden and Tim Olander for tips and information for the Hurricanes story, and to Andy Heidinger and Dee Wade.


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9-16-04 TG