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Steve Ansari, Stephen Del Greco, Edward Kearns, Otis Brown, Scott Wilkins, Mohan Ramamurthy, Jeff Weber, Ryan May, Jed Sundwall, Jeff Layton, Ariel Gold, Adam Pasch, and Valliappa Lakshmanan


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Big Data Partnership (BDP) was established in April 2015 through cooperative research agreements between NOAA and selected commercial and academic partners. The BDP is investigating how the value inherent in NOAA’s data may be leveraged to broaden their utilization through modern cloud infrastructures and advanced “big data” techniques. NOAA’s Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) data were identified as an ideal candidate for such collaborative efforts. NEXRAD Level II data are valuable yet challenging to utilize in their entirety, and recent advances in weather radar science can be applied to both the archived and real-time data streams. NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) transferred the complete NEXRAD Level II historical archive, originating in 1991, through North Carolina State University’s Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites (CICS-NC) to interested BDP collaborators. Amazon Web Services (AWS) has received and made freely available the complete archived Level II data through its AWS platform. AWS then partnered with Unidata/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) to establish a real-time NEXRAD feed, thereby providing on-demand dissemination of both archived and current data seamlessly through the same access mechanism by October 2015. To organize, verify, and utilize the NEXRAD data on its platform, AWS further partnered with the Climate Corporation. This collective effort among federal government, private industry, and academia has already realized a number of new and novel applications that employ NOAA’s NEXRAD data, at no net cost to the U.S. taxpayer. The volume of accessed NEXRAD data, including this new AWS platform service, has increased by 130%, while the amount of data delivered by NOAA/NCEI has decreased by 50%.

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Kenneth R. Knapp, Steve Ansari, Caroline L. Bain, Mark A. Bourassa, Michael J. Dickinson, Chris Funk, Chip N. Helms, Christopher C. Hennon, Christopher D. Holmes, George J. Huffman, James P. Kossin, Hai-Tien Lee, Alexander Loew, and Gudrun Magnusdottir

Geostationary satellites have provided routine, high temporal resolution Earth observations since the 1970s. Despite the long period of record, use of these data in climate studies has been limited for numerous reasons, among them that no central archive of geostationary data for all international satellites exists, full temporal and spatial resolution data are voluminous, and diverse calibration and navigation formats encumber the uniform processing needed for multisatellite climate studies. The International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) set the stage for overcoming these issues by archiving a subset of the full-resolution geostationary data at ~10-km resolution at 3-hourly intervals since 1983. Recent efforts at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center to provide convenient access to these data include remapping the data to a standard map projection, recalibrating the data to optimize temporal homogeneity, extending the record of observations back to 1980, and reformatting the data for broad public distribution. The Gridded Satellite (GridSat) dataset includes observations from the visible, infrared window, and infrared water vapor channels. Data are stored in Network Common Data Format (netCDF) using standards that permit a wide variety of tools and libraries to process the data quickly and easily. A novel data layering approach, together with appropriate satellite and file metadata, allows users to access GridSat data at varying levels of complexity based on their needs. The result is a climate data record already in use by the meteorological community. Examples include reanalysis of tropical cyclones, studies of global precipitation, and detection and tracking of the intertropical convergence zone.

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