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Name of Collaboratory :


Linked Environments for Atmospheric Discovery (LEAD)


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Collaboratory Status :

Operational   Start Date : 2003 End Date : 2008 Info Last Updated : Sat, Nov 1 2003 4:01pm PST

Primary Collaboratory Function :

  Community Infrastructure Development  

Secondary Collaboratory Functions :

  Distributed Research Center  

Domain(s) :

  atmospheric science, meteorology  

Brief Description of the Collaboratory :


Each year, mesoscale weather events such as floods, tornadoes, lightning, strong winds, and winter storms lead to death, disruption, and billions of dollars in economic losses. Current observing systems do not respond well to shifts in the weather, and the field of atmospheric science lacks the cyberinfrastructure that is needed to dramatically improve prediction capabilities. The goal of Linked Environments for Atmospheric Discovery (LEAD) is to conduct meteorology and information technology research to solve fundamental problems in mesoscale meteorology. Science problems drive LEAD, but computer science provides the foundation for addressing and solving them. Specifically, LEAD seeks to develop a system that can: adapt and reconfigure itself as the weather changes; respond to decision-driven inputs from users; and steer remote observing technologies to optimize data collection for the problem at hand. The result will be a real-time, dynamically adaptive system that is able to accommodate disparate and high volume data sets and integrate them with customized weather models and on-demand computing to provide timely severe weather forecasts. Another important aspect of the project is the assessment of LEAD technologies for education and the transfer of information to educators, researchers, and students.

The success of LEAD depends on an interweaving of many capabilities including streaming data infrastructure, data mining and visualization tools, and interchange technologies. LEAD is developing some of the tools and technologies to address fundamental problems in mesoscale meteorology, but it also relies heavily on the work of others. This is one reason that LEAD is establishing the National Geosciences Technology Forum (GTF). Conceptually, the GTF is modeled after groups like the Global Grid Forum and Open Grid Forum. The GTF is intended to serve as a focal point for cyberinfrastructure in the geosciences and will include representatives from government agencies, professional societies, educational institutions, and research laboratories. The overall goals of the GTF are to facilitate communication between operational and research communities and to help ensure that LEAD is interoperable with infrastructure being developed in other projects such as GEON, NEESgrid, and GriPhyN.

Kelvin Droegemeier is the lead Principal Investigator (PI) and Project Director. He receives administrative and logistical assistance from a half-time Project Coordinator. Decisions are made collectively by the project PIs, who meet once a week on Access Grid (AG). Research and development in LEAD is organized around four thrust groups: Data, Tools, Orchestration, and Meteorology. Each group is lead by PIs from two institutions. There are also two test bed groups: Grid and Web Services Test Beds and Education and Operations Research Test Beds. The thrust groups and test beds are comprised of individuals from multiple institutions; this makes the work in LEAD very distributed and increases the need for frequent communication. All project participants meet monthly for a 2-hour AG session and face-to-face twice a year. The thrust and test bed groups also meet regularly on AG and via teleconference. Meeting minutes and presentations are posted on the private portion of the LEAD web site. A monthly electronic newsletter is distributed to all project members and is also available to anyone interested in LEAD.


Access to Instruments :

  LEAD has access to technologies for remote sensing of the atmosphere through two NSF-funded facilities: Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) and Colorado State University's CHILL National Radar Facility. Two of the LEAD PIs (K. Droegemeier and V. Chandrasekar) are leaders of CASA, which seeks to improve atmospheric observing technologies including dense networks of radar.  

Access to Information Resources :

  Meeting notes, presentations, and other project information are available to LEAD participants on the private portion of the web site. The LEAD PI has considered using QuickPlace, an IBM product designed for team collaboration, but for now, the private web site space is serving the group's needs.  

Access to People as Resources :

  LEAD includes researchers from atmospheric science and computer science. Although many project members have previous experience with interdisciplinary collaborations, LEAD instituted "self-education" sessions to evolve a common vocabulary among participants and to facilitate interdisciplinary understanding and collaboration. These sessions take place periodically during project AG meetings.

LEAD also has an External Advisory Panel that provides advice and expertise. The Advisory Panel meets face-to-face once a year.

Funding Agency or Sponsor :


Notes on Funding Agencies/Sponsors:
LEAD was funded by an 11.25 million dollar grant from NSF's Information Technology Research (ITR) Program.

Organizations with Funded Participants:
Organization name:
Approx # of participants:
Description of organization's role(s):
Indiana University
   College of Arts and Sciences (IndianaU)
      Computer Science Department (IndianaU)
Data workflow, orchestration, and web services
University of North Carolina
   University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
      College of Arts & Sciences (UNC-Chapel Hill)
         Department of Computer Science (UNC-Chapel Hill)
Millersville University
   Department of Earth Sciences (Millersville)
Education and outreach
Colorado State University (CSU)
   Electrical and Computer Engineering (CSU)
Instrument steering and dynamic updating
Howard University
Meteorological research and education and outreach
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)
   National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA)
Monitoring and data management
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR)
Data streaming and distributed storage
University of Alabama at Huntsville
Data mining, interchange technologies, and semantics
University of Oklahoma
Meteorological research and project coordination

Notes on Participants/Organizations:
The data on the total number of participants was compiled from information available on the LEAD web site and from an interview with LEAD investigators. According to the Year 1 Annual Report, the number of FTEs is approximately 22. Colorado State University will not receive funding until the third year of the project.


Communications Technology Used :


Technical Capabilities :

  Synchronous conversation
Audio, Video
  Key Articles :    

Project-reported performance data :

  The Year 1 Annual Report details progress made during the period October 1, 2003-September 30, 2004. The full-text of the report is available at:  
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