83rd Annual

Monday, 10 February 2003
Design Considerations for a Next-Generation Meteorological Workstation
William F. Roberts, NOAA/ERL/FSL, Boulder, CO; and C. S. Bullock, R. F. Prentice, T. J. LeFebvre, U. H. Grote, D. L. Davis, M. Biere, W. J. Carrigg, and D. Helms
The Forecast System Laboratory's FX workstation development activity has been the cornerstone of meteorological workstation development at the FSL over the past 10 years. While primarily directed by National Weather Service requirements, it has also supported development for workstations in foreign countries and other national agencies. The FSL workstation was initially developed using DEC VAX/VMS, and then was ported to a Workstation/Unix environment. Most recently, the workstation component has been ported to a Linux/PC. The next logical step in this development process is the port of the full system to a Linux/PC-based system in order to take full advantage of market-driven hardware advances that promise better performance and a substantial cost savings with fairly minor changes to the basic system architecture.

Several workstation system architecture changes were made during the port to Workstation/Unix environment. These included a workstation redesigned using object-oriented programming, an integrated user interface, localization software and local data ingest, and graphics rendering on-the-fly. Rendering on-the-fly greatly simplified data management, background tasks, and display resolution issues, but has not fully met all of the initial performance requirements set down by the AWIPS program at its inception 15 years ago.

Important additional elements have recently been added to the workstation which address new requirements such as gridded forecast preparation and severe weather decision support. Gridded forecast preparation, in particular, is redefining how forecasters prepare and generate forecast information. Data volumes have also increased dramatically since the system was initially deployed, and this trend will continue in the future. How forecasters will make optimal use of the data and workstation features during warning operations and in support the National Digital Forecast Database are also key factors to evaluate. This paper will examine these factors and summarize design features which need to be addressed for the next-generation FX meteorological workstation.

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