Highlights, 2002

by Terri Gregory and many others
Thanks to all SSEC and ASPT employees who provided highlights of their work.

Acronyms are at the end.

This version of the 2002 Highlights is longer and nearly unedited, close to what was originally provided by scientists, engineers, program managers and others. Even more highlights can be found in the State of the Center presentation by Hank Revercomb, SSEC’s director. given December 19, 2002.

Auspicious Beginnings

IceCube, cubic-kilometer-sized neutrino telescope being established at the South Pole, received $15 million in first year startup funds from the National Science Foundation. IceCube is the biggest single project ever undertaken by the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the second largest project ever run by a university in the United States. IceCube received a positive review from the National Research Council (Washington, DC) in June.

Data and Information


The Automatic Weather Station program’s Jonathan Thom added a station on iceberg C-16, so that it could be tracked and weather conditions monitored. The group has also decoded data from Italian automatic weather stations and the United States Antarctic Program Automated Geophysical Observatories (AGO), to add to the growing databank of data on Antarctica kept by SSEC's Antarctic Meteorological Research Center (AMRC).

The AMRC continues to monitor the large tabular icebergs that have calved from the Ross Ice Shelf, starting in March 2000. They discovered the latest new berg, C-19.

Susan Solomon, NOAA scientist who wrote The Coldest March, noted that she was able to make temperature comparisons because the Automatic Weather Station had been invented by Antarctic pioneer Emeritus Professor (Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences) Charles Stearns, now SSEC scientist, principal investigator for AWS and AMRC programs.


The Schwerdtfeger Library, SSEC’s special campus library, formally released The Wilson Bentley image collection in May 2002. The collection has been praised by Bentley’s biographer, Duncan Blanchard; AOS faculty; teachers; and others. Thanks to Linda Hedges, Liza Palmer and Evan Richards for making this rendition of Bentley’s work possible. Other image collections are under development.

Record Warm Lows

Scott Lindstrom reported that April 16’s low temperature of 66 at Truax Field (Dane County airport), was the warmest low on record for April. It tied the low of 66 on April 5, 1929.

Education and Outreach

Neutrinos through the Ice

Resources for Astronomy in the Ice, a professional development course that features AMANDA/IceCube and related science, were added to the IceCube Outreach Web site. Jim Madsen (UW–River Falls) has been offering this course to high school teachers since summer 2000. This site includes resources for inquiry-based laboratory problems that secondary school teachers can use with their students. Kay Kriewald (outreach coordinator, IceCube Education Resource Center) and Bill Bellon (SSEC webmaster) produced the site. 15 teachers attended the Astronomy in the Ice 2002 summer course.

SSEC with NASA at the EAA

We helped NASA showcase its DC-8, based at Dryden Flight Research Center, at the Experimental Aviation Association’s annual convention in Oshkosh, in July. The Scanning-HIS had just flown a mission on the plane.

NASA Connects

Margaret Mooney of SSEC’s Office of Space Science Education (OSSE) coordinated geology and meteorology lectures originating at NASA’s Langley Research Center and led hands-on activities with Dane County Girl Scout troops so scouts could earn a weather badge. Mooney also conducted a separate meteorology program alone, sponsored by NASA.

El Niño

SSEC scientists Dave Martin, Don Wylie and Bill Raymond helped the media educate the public on El Niño. They appeared on television and radio and answered queries via email.

University Programs

This year OSSE teamed with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and UW–Madison’s College of Engineering to divide the 3-week Pre-College Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence (PEOPLE) into Robotics, Aviation and Space. Held at Space Place, it was a big sucess.

OSSE took part in Grandparents’ University in mid-July, teaching children and grandparents together at Space Place. OSSE Director Sanjay Limaye led the group in interactive activities oriented toward planetary exploration.


OSSE conducted two GLOBE workshops during the summer of 2002. At Madison O’Keeffe Middle School, two teachers from South Africa participated and Wisconsin Congresswoman Baldwin’s field representative sat in for a morning.

The second workshop was held at the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College; a teacher from Istanbul, Turkey participated.

Working with High School Students

OSSE director, Sanjay Limaye, gave two rewarding presentations on November 4th at Gallaudet University’s Model Secondary School for the Deaf in Washington, DC. Two classes of high school seniors in the Earth Science course attended with their teacher, Mary Ellsworth, signing.

CIMSS’ Kris Bedka and John Mecikalski worked with Waunakee High School to infuse satellite data and other weather information into their science curriculum.

Teacher Professional Development

OSSE gave continuing workshops for high school astronomy teachers from Wisconsin and Illinois who teach a new course in Astronomy and Space Science. They are very enthusiastic about increasing their content knowledge in space science and visited observatories around the state—Yerkes, Hobbs, Fall Creek, Rockford Amateur Solar Telescope, Pine Bluff Observatory and the Madison Metropolitan School District Telescope.

Both SSEC’s Office of Space Science Education and IceCube outreach were represented at the summer conference of Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers.

Innovative Collaborations

Nowcasting for NCAR

CIMSS researchers Kris Bedka and John Mecikalski have processed geostationary satellite data (both visible, infrared, and sounder bands) from GOES-8 (our techniques can be used with any geostationary sensor such as GOES-10 or METEOSAT) to identify locations where thunderstorms are likely to form in the very near future (i.e., nowcasting .5 to 6 hours ahead in time).

Bedka and Mecikalski are collaborating with scientists Rita Roberts and Cathy Kessinger (National Center for Atmospheric Research) who are part of the Convective Weather and Oceanic Weather Product Development Teams (PDTs). At NCAR, a system called the Auto-Nowcaster incorporates mainly radar data and computer model output to forecast the development and movement of thunderstorms for short periods of time (under 2 hours). This forecasting system has problems in forecasting the initial development (Convective Initiation or first signs of precipitation from a cumulus cloud) of thunderstorms. In addition, satellite data does not have much impact in this forecasting system, but is crucial over oceans where no radar data exists.

Because of CIMSS’ satellite expertise, Bedka and Mecikalski have been asked to provide satellite-based “interest fields” that are useful in diagnosing locations where convective initiation will occur in the near future. During the daylight hours when 1 km visible data is available, they use techniques to isolate the locations of small cumulus clouds to focus on them. They then look at time trends of cumulus cloud-top temperatures to find locations where clouds are rapidly cooling (i.e., growing taller) or to find where cloud tops have changed from liquid water to ice. (This technique concentrates on wavelengths from 3.9–10.7 um). In addition, they use sounder data to assess atmospheric stability ahead of the cumulus cloud lines. During the night, they rely on infrared and sounder data exclusively.

In the end, cumulus clouds that are part of a line and that are growing and moving into an unstable environment are flagged as potential locations for convective initiation. It is hoped that infusing these fields into the Auto-Nowcaster system will improve short-term forecasts of thunderstorm development. Because the grant began in October, it is expected that the technique will grow in sophistication in 2003.

Winds for ECMWF

Wind measurements derived from MODIS (MODerate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) satellite data and provided to the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF) demonstrated a positive impact on short-range weather forecasts over the Arctic. Jeff Key (NOAA team leader at SSEC), Chris Velden and Dave Santek (SSEC) and others work on the polar winds project.

SMEX Participation

SSEC participated with its Scanning-HIS in the 2002 Soil Moisture Field Experiment, a collaborative venture of NASA’s Earth Science Enterprise and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Research Service. Scientists in CIMSS and Soil Science worked with William P. Kustus of the USDA to supplement moisture and vegetation measurements taken with instruments and satellites during SMEX. The UW group, George Diak and John Mecikalski (CIMSS) and John Norman (Soil Science), used microwave measurements with their own physical measurements of vegetation to produce a data set for use in numerical models, such as ALEXI, the Atmospheric Land EXchange Inversion .


VISITview technology was used for the first time in a real-time satellite image collaboration on line with many sorts of weather satellite data on May 23 with a one-hour real-time global satellite data briefing at the Asia-Pacific Satellite Applications Training Seminar, a World Meteorological Organization conference in Melbourne, Australia with experts from around the world. SSEC provides the only global satellite (Meteosat, GOES, GMS and derived product imagery) real-time collaboration portal using common web browsers in the world. This VISITview portal can be used whenever scientists and others need to interact with their colleagues using real-time, animated satellite imagery for any place covered by geostationary satellites. They need only point their Web browsers and create (or join) a group to interact with each other.

Wetzel Ingredients for NWS

National Weather Service forecasters made wide use of the “Wetzel” ingredients method to precisely forecast snow. Forecasters in Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota specifically mentioned their reliance on the technique. This method of forecasting elements of severe weather was devised by CIMSS’ Suzanne Wetzel Seemann; Scott Bachmeier, also with CIMSS, trained the forecasters using Tom Whittaker's VISITview application.

Teacher Exploring Antarctica

The IceCube Education Resource Center linked the AMANDA Teacher Exploring Antarctica (TEA) for 2002-03 with Belgian IERC Institution Lead, to pursue joint US-Belgian teacher project. The TEA program, administered by Rice University, selects K–12 teachers to join scientific expeditions to the Arctic and the Antarctica. The TEA teacher works closely with scientists, participates in cutting-edge research, and is immersed in the process of science.

In the Limelight

More MODIS imagery featured in In the News and in NASA’s Earth Observatory Web site than we can possibly mention.

IceCube logo developed, representing ice-bound detectors in stylized fashion.

Francis Halzen presents neutrino research, especially the innovative telescope IceCube, at UW–Madison Roundtable in October.

The History Channel’s “Antarctica, a Frozen History,” features Jonathan Thom and Douglas MacAyeal, University of Chicago glaciologist, placing Automatic Weather Stations and other equipment on iceberg B-15.

Momentous Occasions

May 4, NASA’s Aqua is launched, giving radically higher spectral resolution with greatly improved vertical information, “like an AERI in space.” SSEC will receive and make available data from AIRS, on Aqua, directly from an antenna on the roof.

Huge hail during the International H2O Project, IHOP.

Research Progress

AMRC Advances

SSEC’s Antarctic Meteorological Research Center received NSF funding to carry them through 3 years, and has improved the Antarctic composite, their prime Web product, boosting the resolution to 5 km and increasing the satellite coverage. The AMRC also celebrated its tenth anniversary and added a new researcher, Shelley Knuth. The AMRC’s Matthew Lazzara spent time with satellite imagery and in Antarctica hunting for and studying fog, a primary reason flights to the continent are cancelled. Fog is difficult to see in satellite imagery.


CIMSS started studying in earnest the impact of GOES satellite data on aviation forecasting, with NCAR. Thus far, it appears that satellite data will improve FAA forecasts of convection (local severe storms), turbulence, icing, visibility and ceiling conditions.

CIMSS Research Using MODIS data

The new algorithm for retrieving global Total Precipitable Water (TPW) from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data began running operationally at Goddard Space Flight Center. The technique, developed by the CIMSS team led by Jun Li, is more accurate over desert regions than the earlier version. It allows researchers to utilize the MODIS capability to offer high spatial resolution (1km) TPW retrievals not seen before. These high-resolution moisture fields are very useful for depicting small-scale moisture features and for simulating future imager/sounder systems. MODIS multispectral bands also better differentiate various types of clouds than did previous imagers.

Using data from the MODIS on board NASA’s Terra satellite, Jeff Key (NOAA) and Yinghui Liu (CIMSS graduate student) developed a method for estimating the strength and height of low-level atmospheric temperature inversions.

Research with New AIRS Data

The CIMSS AIRS retrieval group, led by Jun Li, made initial retrievals of data from the AIRS on board NASA’s new Aqua satellite and compared the results with RAOB, MODIS and GOES retrievals. The AIRS/MODIS combined retrievals will be used to study the future GOES sounder/imager system.

CIMSS research with GOES data

The CIMSS GOES Team achieved myriad goals:

  • Produced single field-of-view GOES sounder products for the successful IHOP experiment during the spring and summer over the Great Plains.
  • GOES-11 was brought out of on-orbit storage for the IHOP experiment, offering continuous 5-minute imaging.
  • Gave invaluable input for the GOES-R imager and sounder Cost-Benefit Analysis by MITRE Corporation. Phase I (dealing with some aviation and limited agriculture interests) reported a direct benefit of over $3 billion over the predicted life of the instruments.
  • Actively participated in the second GOES-R users conference held in Boulder, CO. Topics ranged over the next generation imager, next generation sounder and data compression of high spectral resolution data.
  • A national team of experts was assembled o investigate the impacts of data compression of high spectral resolution infrared data. UW/CIMSS is an important part of this team, especially in understanding the affects of compression on products.
  • Generated GOES-9 Sounder products for a 6-week period during December and archived the GVAR data stream. Summarized the performance, showing the satellite could be a back-up for GMS (the Japanese satellite). Continued to generate and validate CIMSS produced retrievals, as well as retrievals produced at NOAA’s NESDIS operations and FPDT.
  • A GOES-8/10 Imager Clear-Sky (average) brightness temperature product was developed and refined for the ECMWF model. In general, ECMWF showed positive forecast improvements.
  • CO2 slicing technique enabled measurements to be directly used to determine the altitude of a cloud. Tony Schreiner showed that the technique works with volcanoes, using GOES-12 imagery.

Next GOES Instrument Development

Suggested more bands for the proposed next generation imager for a total of 18 bands. Collected and pre-processing MODIS data for the Advanced Baseline Imager visible compression study. Researchers used high-spectral (0.4 to 2.4 um) aircraft data to simulate channel selection on the ABI of visible and near-infrared bands. These data also were used to investigate spectral response sensitivities (for the 0.86 and 1.38 um bands).

Library Research Support

Schwerdtfeger Library staff respond to an increasing number of requests each year in support of the Center’s research and development goals, utilizing existing tools and developing new ones to meet request demands and anticipate need. Staff provide extensive background research, expertise, consultation and literature searches for proposed, ongoing and newly funded projects on a daily basis. New in 2002 were: resources in the Atmospheric Sciences, a teaching tool; database development and collection management of software held by the Technical Computing Group; development of an interface to make internal library databases available on the web; and cataloging of unique books and reports to make them available on MadCat.

Conditions That Produce Thunderstorms

Éva Borbás, visiting scientist from Hungary, and other CIMSS and NOAA researchers developed and improved algorithms to identify important precursors of rain-producing convective clouds.

Researchers also provided .5–6 hour nowcasts of convective initiation across large geographical regions at high spatial resolution (1–5 km) through the automated processing of mainly meteorological satellite information.

Monitoring Fires with GOES

The GOES Wildfire ABBA processing system and documentation was transferred to NESDIS Operations and officially declared operational within NOAA in September 2002.

The CIMSS Biomass Burning Monitoring Team provided real-time support for wildfire monitoring in the Western U.S. and Canada in June and July 2002.

    • The Wildfire ABBA documented the rapid intensification of wildfires in Colorado, Arizona, and Canada.
    • The team provided fire products to the NWS Storm Prediction Center (SPC) fire weather forecasters in Oklahoma and participated in numerous press releases and interviews for radio, television, newspaper and online publications.
    • SPC fire weather forecasters indicated that composite Wildfire ABBA fire products were very useful in creating fire weather outlooks.

As part of a collaborative effort with the MODIS MOPITT Science team, the CIMSS Biomass Burning Monitoring Team investigated the relationship between fire activity observed with the WF-ABBA in North, Central and South America and downwind CO maximums derived from NASA's Terra satellite MOPITT instrument. Studies show good agreement between the WF-ABBA fire product and regions of elevated MOPITT derived carbon monoxide values.

Analysis of two years of half-hourly GOES Wildfire ABBA fire products (representing over 30,000 GOES images) provides new insight on wildfires and agricultural burning throughout the Western Hemisphere, including geographic distribution; diurnal, seasonal and interannual variability; and fire extent and relative intensity.

The CIMSS Biomass Burning Team collaborated with a consortium of international government and university research centers and environmental policy groups to study land cover and land use change, carbon dynamics, and fire dynamics in South America. These collaborations resulted in two publications. A manuscript published in Forest Ecology and Management discusses the relationship between road paving, fire regime feedbacks, and the future of Amazon forests. The second manuscript titled “Projecting Future Fire Activity in Amazonia” was published in Global Change Biology.

The San Francisco Exploratorium incorporated the Wildfire ABBA into their on-line Global Climate Change Research Explorer web site. This Web site is part of the Exploratorium’s Global Change Education Program.

As part of the interdisciplinary multi-agency Fire Locating And Monitoring of Burning Emissions (FLAMBE) project, Wildfire ABBA fire products continue to be assimilated into the Navy Aerosol Analysis and Prediction System (NAAPS) in real time to analyze and predict aerosol loading and transport. Researchers at the University of Sao Paulo are assimilating the Wildfire ABBA into the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System in real time to diagnose and predict carbon monoxide and PM 2.5 (Particulate Matter - 2.5 microns). These two activities represent the first semi-operational assimilation of satellite derived fire products into atmospheric models.

Polar Science

Dave Santek and Chris Velden (CIMSS) and Jeff Key (NOAA team leader at SSEC) are now producing information on winds around Earth’s poles in nearly real time. The data comes from a NOAA computer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. At CIMSS, software automatically estimates wind speed, direction and height for both polar regions.

Toward Simulating GIFTS

Gail Dengel and Russ Dengel used data from the MM5 model as a first step toward deriving wind measurements from observations that will be taken by the Geostationary Imaging Fourier Transform Spectrometer (GIFTS). When launched in 2004, GIFTS will allow us to obtain winds by tracking gradients in moisture fields, such as mixing ratio (Q), on pressure-resolved surfaces. The winds team used Q-fields from a simulation of a convective initiation situation (beginning of a severe storm) during the IHOP (June 12, 2002) to obtain wind vectors at 50 mb intervals from 1000-350 mb. A VisAD plot of the resulting edited wind vectors (10,942 in all!) shows the density and distribution of these coherent wind fields. The work is very preliminary, using model output only, assuming clear sky conditions, and minimal quality control. However, this is a very encouraging step towards using simulated GIFTS data.

Derek Posselt is helping to develop geostationary hyperspectral instruments, particularly the GIFTS Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI). Using model output, he simulated different weather conditions in high spatial and temporal resolution (over many layers of the atmosphere and very often). So as to develop algorithms that will retrieve information from GIFTS data, he is also facilitating the interface between his simulation output and the GIFTS forward radiative transfer model.

During IHOP, Posselt produced a highly realistic simulation of the initiation and development of convection with simulated GIFTS data. He also demonstrated GIFTS’ anticipated ability to sense fine-scale moisture gradients and moisture convergence and the potential for increased lead time on forecasts of storm beginnings. Posselt plans to continue refining the IHOP convective initiation case, including assimilation of IHOP observations to increase simulation accuracy. The next case study will likely consist of a simulation of a Pacific ocean mid-latitude cyclone as part of THe Observing system Research and Prediction EXperiment (THORPEX).

Several other SSEC and CIMSS researchers are instrumental in simulating GIFTS data. Erik Olson runs the GIFTS forward radiative transfer model, which was developed by Hal Woolf. Brian Osborne is communications liaison with NASA’s Langley Research Center, and is administrative assistant for the project. Allen Huang is principal investigator for the GIFTS/MURI project. Bob Knuteson is program manager for the IHOP case study simulation, which is administered by William L Smith and John Murray at NASA Langley.

Numerical Modeling

Bob Aune and Bill Raymond showed that the CIMSS Regional Assimilation System (CRAS) gave a more accurate precipitation forecast when GOES water vapor and cloud-top pressure are included over water as well as land. The Eta Data Assimilation System (EDAS), used by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction to forecast U.S. weather, does not use GOES water vapor or cloud information over the Gulf of Mexico, and failed to show rain that fell over Tennessee and Kentucky from Tropical Storm Isidore when it moved ashore.

Derek Posselt, with other CIMSS scientists, adapted vegetation fraction information derived from Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer satellite data to use in the fifth generation Pennsylvania State-NCAR Mesoscale Modeling system (MM5) model.

Using output from the MM5 numerical model, Derek Posselt simulated clouds (white), water vapor (colored haze), and wind vectors at a 2 km altitude. The resulting animation shows the time from 1415 to 2200 UTC on 12 June 2002. Posselt also simulated GOES-8 10.7 micron brightness temperature output from MM5.

To develop the capability of producing and validating GIFTS and Hyperspectral Environmental Suite (HES) data, Posselt and others have developed methods to compare simulated data with actual remotely-sensed observations, including those from the AERI and GOES-8. In 2002, the group validated temperature and water vapor measurements derived from the AERI using time-height cross-sections and compared those measurements with MM5 output. They also averaged AERI radiances across discrete bands and compared them with radiance measurements predicted by MM5 from the same bands.

The group was also able to extract brightness temperatures in the 10.7 micron wavelength range from the MM5 radiative transfer scheme and compared them with GOES-08 brightness temperatures in the same spectral region. Posselt believes that more accurate assessment of model-derived brightness temperatures can be obtained to compare with GOES data by interfacing forecast temperature and water vapor with the GOES forward radiative transfer model. The group intends to validate MM5 model output with AIRS data as well.

Validating IAPP and ICI products

Éva Borbás, Tom Achtor, Lydie Lavanant (Meteo France, Lannion, France), Paul Menzel and Hal Woolf tested ATOVS processing software like AAPP (EUMETSAT) preprocessing and IAPP (CIMSS) and ICI (Meteo France) retrieval packages for new NOAA-17 satellite data.

Service and Honors

Tom Achtor, SSEC’s Executive Director for Science, was elected a Co-Chair of the International TOVS (TIROS Operational Vertical Sounder) Working Group (ITWG). CIMSS provides the ITWG community and other international interests with software which applies radiance measurements to derive temperature and moisture vertical profiles. Achtor’s term as Co-Chair is for five years.

SPIE, the international society for optical engineers, presented SSEC senior scientist Edwin Eloranta with the Scientific Achievement Award in Remote Sensing at the Society’s annual meeting in Hangzhou, China. Eloranta, who leads UW–Madison’s lidar group, was honored for developing two state-of-the-art lidar instruments that enable detailed analysis of atmospheric structure.

Hung-Lung (Allen) Huang, CIMSS senior scientist, was appointed chair of the National Academies’ Committee on Environmental Satellite Data Utilization. Also, Huang was awarded an adjunct professorship to Nanjing Institute of Meteorology, Nanjing, China.

CIMSS scientist Jun Li received the NOAA David Johnson Award in Washington, DC on March 22. The award is presented annually to a young scientist for “outstanding innovative use of Earth observation satellite data.”

Senior scientist Dave Martin, one of four field editors for the Journal of Applied Meteorology, processed almost two dozen manuscripts with editorial assistance from Nicole Kowbel and Cameron Smith.

Shaima Nasiri, a graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. degree in UW–Madison’s Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, received the first Suomi-Simpson Graduate Fellowship, sponsored by UW–Madison and NASA, to work with NASA Goddard scientists on EOS projects.

Senior scientist Wilton Sanders was awarded the 2002 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Service to the University.

CIMSS researcher Tony Schreiner was named Team Member of the Month by NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service for June 2002. Schreiner was nominated by NOAA workers who work with CIMSS scientists at UW–Madison for his “significant contributions to NESDIS’ mission through the development and generation of cloud products derived from the GOES.”

For their help with weather forecasts for an evacuation, Chuck Stearns, George Weidner and Matthew Lazzara received service patches from Raytheon, who provide skilled support services to Antarctica’s researchers.

Tropical Cyclones team leader Chris Velden was elected to chair the AMS Satellite Committee for a 3-year term starting in 2003. Velden also will serve as Subject Matter Editor for Satellite Meteorology for the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

Sharing Information


The annual McIDAS Users’ Group (MUG) Meeting was held at Union South in October. The forty-four attendees include users from many U.S. sites, as well as the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Eumetsat (Darmstadt, Germany) and Kwajalein Island.

The Antarctic Automatic Weather Station (AWS) and Antarctic Meteorological Research Center projects held their annual meeting on May 21–22 in Madison. About 30 attendees included participants in NSF’s research program and users of AWS data. Those users include forecasters, researchers and teachers.

Directors of special libraries on the UW–Madison campus, including Jean Phillips of The Schwerdtfeger Library, are meeting starting in 2002 to discuss the roles of Special Purpose Libraries in the Campus Libraries Strategic Plan for 2002-2003, following the key elements of UW–Madison’s Strategic Plan as outlined by Chancellor Wiley. Special Purpose Libraries play a significant role in promoting research by increasing resources and improving infrastructure for research, advancing learning, amplifying the Wisconsin Idea and accelerating internationalization.

Many scientists presented at a fall meeting in China of satellite meteorologists.

SSEC technical experts and research participated in the NOAA direct readout satellite conference held in December in Miami and attracting participants from around the world, especially from both Americas and Europe.


The AMS selected “Daily hurricane variability inferred from GOES infrared imagery” by James Kossin as a paper of note. The paper was published in the September 2002 Monthly Weather Review. An abstract appears in BAMS for September 2002.

Jim Kossin also is lead author for “Vortical swirls in hurricane eye clouds” published in Monthly Weather Review for December 2002. Co-authors are Brian McNoldy and Wayne Schubert.

A paper on surface and cloud-type classification using MODIS multispectral band radiance measurements by Jun Li, Paul Menzel, Zhongdong Yang, Richard Frey and Steve Ackerman was published in No.2, Vol. 42 of the Journal of Applied Meteorology.

The Journal of Applied Meteorology accepted a paper for publication on the MODIS algorithm developed by Jun Li and Suzanne Seemann (both of CIMSS), Paul Menzel (NOAA chief scientist, stationed at SSEC) and Liam Gumley (SSEC).

Weather and Forecasting published “Monitoring high-temporal-resolution convective stability indices using the ground-based atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometer (AERI) during the 3 May 1999 Oklahoma-Kansas tornado outbreak.” The paper, by Wayne Feltz and John Mecikalski, depicts the AERI instrument’s skill in detecting precursor conditions of the May 3, 1999 Oklahoma/Kansas tornado outbreak.

The Journal of Applied Meteorology accepted for publication “Near continuous profiling of temperature, moisture, and atmospheric stability using the Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometer (AERI),” by Wayne Feltz, Ben Howell, Bob Knuteson, Hal Woolf, and Hank Revercomb. The paper describes advancement in the AERI temperature and moisture retrieval software and their utility in meteorological applications.

Many other papers were published and presentations given in 2002. Some of them are available at the CIMSS Web site and in The Schwerdtfeger Library.

In Print and On Line

An IceCube brochure was produced in both English and Spanish and a bookmark was printed for AMANDA and IceCube.

With help from the WINNERSS grant, OSSE produced a popular and colorful poster with multiple connections to Wisconsin. Images on the poster were all produced by Wisconsin researchers. In addition, undergraduate student hourly employee Stacy Benzel posted OSSE’s GET-WISE course on the Internet in three different streaming video formats.

Bill Bellon, SSEC Webmaster, and Susan Millar, IceCube outreach coordinator, redesigned the IceCube Web site to feature prominently Education and Outreach.

In a continuing attempt to provide users with attractive and up-to-date information on SSEC and its projects, and to increase usability, SSEC Webmaster Bill Bellon redesigned the SSEC Web site devoted to A3RI and created, with Jason Brunner and Tom Achtor, the GOES U.S. Full Resolution Visible Image Browser.

Following Web site 2001 redesign, Schwerdtfeger Library staff created templates for second and third level pages to unify the site.

Scott Bachmeier provided information and graphics for a winter retrospective for 2001-2. This very detailed analysis included snow depth and geographic extent.

The interactive display, Playing With Time, opened at the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul in mid-March and uses SSEC imagery.

Tom Whittaker’s AniS Java applet is used all over the world; users have translated it into Spanish and Dutch. All National Weather Service radar images use AniS throughout the country. The U.S. Air Force and Army and the National Centers for Environmental Prediction all use AniS. And it fuels SSEC’s GOES image browser’s animation.


The IceCube education group provided San Francisco’s Exploratorium with AMANDA resources for their Origins Project, which also features Hubble Telescope, CERN, and the Las Cuevas Research Station in Belize. Products consist of an exhibit at the Exploratorium, web material, and an article featuring AMANDA/IceCube in a Special Expedition Issue of Exploratorium Magazine: “Antarctica, Scientific Journeys from McMurdo to the Pole” (summer 2002).

SSEC Infrastructure

The Schwerdtfeger Library

SSEC’s campus special library has expanded well beyond its designed capacity. Library staff conducted a major evaluation of the collection during 2002, focusing particularly on duplication of materials. Two options for maximizing existing space were developed and presented to administration. The Library continues to develop the unique collection of international publications and government documents while maintaining a core collection of atmospheric science texts and journals to support research.

Getting the Ship into Shape

Building manager JoAnn Banks, ICDS coordinator Tony Wendricks, logistics facilitator Mike Dean and his trusty student crew cleaned up the loading dock area, long overrun with old surplus equipment. We again have room for picnic tables and the place looks great!

Mike Dean’s student workers completely inventoried ICDS huge warehouse holdings. And they moved all SSEC stored belongings to a warehouse.

The Season of Water—In October, building manager JoAnn Banks discovered, just in time, a deluge waiting to happen. She had some rusty water valves fixed, and the center was never under water. SSEC survived replacement of the bad (35-year-old) valves and water being shut off for a day, even though the water was shut off again for repairs to leaks that appeared after the replacement. Then a steam relief valve broke, sending water all over 7th floor and down onto 6th. Although several ceiling tiles were ruined, no computers were lost. Small leaks continued to develop sporadically after that, in various places in the building. Finally in December, thanks to dedicated plumbers and steam fitters, and Banks’ diligence, all appeared intact and dry.

Staff at Work

The work of SSEC’s Human Resources team, mostly Sally Loy and Jean Stover, reflected the center’s great growth and change:

They helped 5 employees retire, answering benefits questions, ordering certificates and processing other paperwork.

They processed 25 rate and title changes, including reclassifications for Classified staff.

They regularly increased the salaries of SSEC’s dozens of student hourly employees.

They helped 25 of SSEC’s international employees, honorary fellows, students and visitors with visas, permanent residency requirements, and Employment Authorization Cards. Some visas must be renewed annually; with at least one type the process takes up to 6 months to get approval for a 3-year stay.

They also processed leaves of absence and changes in status.

They also answered letters from 100s of applicants.

They helped SSEC’s 200+ staff make the right benefits choices at hiring and termination and all stages in between, including family additions. Human Resources Manager Sally Loy says in characteristically understated fashion, “This does keep us busy.”

SSEC’s Human Resources team documented the hiring process over the past three years and noted that growth is outstripping exits, which are not included in this table.

New Staff Hired
Academic (nonclassified)
Classified and Limited Term
Graduate Students
Research Interns and Associates

Honorary Fellows and Others

SSEC’s Purchasing Team

SSEC showed an increase in purchasing activity from 2000 through 2002. The year 2001 showed the largest increase since records were kept in terms of the number of orders handled. Not only did SSEC Purchasing sustain those numbers in 2002, but exceeded them. The dollar increase in 2002 is unprecedented. Over the last two years, the number of orders has increased by 67% and the dollar volume by 467%!

Purchasing Activity 2000 through 2002
2000 Amount
2001 Amount
2002 Amount
% Incr.
% Incr.
% Incr.
% Incr.

Purchasing manager Dave Allen noted, “That we have kept pace and not gone under is a credit to Gretchen Fitzgerald, purchasing agent, and Amanda Szalewski, student assistant.”

Technological Advances

Drilling Services

SSEC’s Ice Coring and Drilling Services (ICDS) is supporting five projects with drilling components in Antarctica with 14 people altogether.

  • Shot-hole drill demonstration
  • The U.S. ITASE
  • Queen Maud Land, collaboration with German group
  • Dome C, collaboration with Danes

ICDS completed the design and continues to fabricate the Enhanced Hot Water Drill (EHWD) which will be used to drill 80 holes at the South Pole for the IceCube neutrino telescope. With funding received from the NSF, the drill is expected to be ready for shipment in August 2003.

ICDS completed the design, construction, and testing of a fast air-powered mechanical ice drill for use in seismic work. The Shot Hole Drill (as it is commonly called) will be used to drill as many as six hundred 30-meter deep “shot holes” for seismic studies in Antarctica during the 2002–03 field season.

McIDAS Software Updates

McIDAS-X, -XCD and -XRD were upgraded to version 2002 in May. The -X upgrade includes an updated country code database, a new configuration GUI and new MODIS HDF servers. The -XRD upgrade includes 22 new commands.

Four software updates were issued for the SSEC Desktop Ingestor including modifications for GOES-12 and NOAA-17 satellites.

McIDAS-Lite (a free image viewer that uses a small subset of McIDAS-X commands along with a simplified GUI to view local or remote data in McIDAS Area or MODIS HDF formats) was released in January and updated in September. It proved to be popular software, with 200 downloads and more than 1300 data requests over the summer. It was also added to NASA GSFC’s Hierarchical Data Format for the Earth Observing System (HDF-EOS) Tools page.

Scott Lindstrom wrote a Java applet to control color selection.

Instrument Development

Scanning-HIS was reconfigured and successfully integrated onto the Proteus aircraft and flew the first leg of the DOE ARM CART Site Grand Tour that includes the Southern Great Planes (SGP) in Oklahoma, the North Slope of Alaska (NSA) near Barrow (April 2003), and the Tropical Western Pacific (TWP) in 2004.

SSEC/CIMSS participated in the International H2O Program (IHOP) experiment from May 13–June 25, 2002 with ground-based and aircraft instruments. For the first time, a grid of six AERI systems worked continuously to provide detailed nowcasting information to a field program.

The AERIbago was deployed in the western Oklahoma panhandle operating an AERI system that was fully automated.

In IHOP, the S-HIS detected atmospheric moisture and temperature variation prior to thunderstorm development and flew with NASA’s Langley Research Center’s NPOES Atmospheric Sounder Testbed-Interferometer.

The Planetary Imaging Fourier Transform Spectrometer (PIFTS) design idea achieved a milestone with production of a breadboard. Comparison of data taken on a clear day by both AERI and PIFTS shows excellent radiance agreement.

Viewing the Earth and Planets

Neptune studies continue with Space Telescope—Senior scientist Larry Sromovsky successfully proposed research on Neptune, repeating earlier successes. Dynamics and Cloud Structure of Neptune was only 1 of 2 accepted out of 15 submitted from Wisconsin in the Hubble Space Telescope observing round, Cycle 11. Sromovsky and his co-investigators Kevin Baines (JPL) and Sanjay Limaye (SSEC) used the Wide Field Planetary Camera on the Hubble Space Telescope to observe Neptune in 2002. They also proposed to use NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) and Keck ground-based telescopes to enhance the characterization of cloud structure.

MODIS imagery was used to show the fires raging in the summer of 2002, with efforts by Scott Bachmeier and Kathy Strabala.

The eruption of Italy’s Mt. Etna was captured by MODIS on October 28. Kathy Strabala and others of SSEC’s MODIS team, who specialize in cloud characteristics, brought in data from NASA to analyze the ash plume. The brightness temperature differences found in the Etna plume were positive, rather than negative, as had been found in other volcanic eruptions, suggesting the presence of ice in the plume. Scientists will continue to analyze volcanic eruptions when Terra passes over an erupting volcano.

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

16 April 2003 SSEC's Public Information Officer.