9 - 13 December 2013, San Francisco, USA
By Melody Sandells SSI 2013 Fellow and Research Fellow at University of Reading
Highlights of the event include: running a town hall meeting with SSI, convening sessions on Remote Sensing of the Cryosphere, and an in-depth discussion with Aleksandra Pawlik.
The main focus of the conference was to run a Town Hall session on software and research. Allen Pope and Aleksandra Pawlik also attended, with Kayla Iacovino in attendance via skype. As this event was in conjunction with SSI, much of the content of this Town Hall has already been documented in Aleksandra's blog post, so I will not repeat the information here. It is also likely to form the basis of an article, led by Allen. The Town Hall was surprisingly well attended, with around 60, vocal people who heartily joined in the discussions. Prior to this meeting, we set up a Google Form for people to fill in, and now have a range of contacts from this. Most of the audience had a good understanding of the issues around software sustainability and training, so it would be good to think how to reach out to those who would benefit from these discussions. How can we attract more researchers?
For me, the rest of the meeting went extremely well. The Remote Sensing of the Cryosphere session had a peak audience of around 220 (which I used to plug the Town Hall and SSI). One of my co-conveners, Mary Jo Brodzik, who I had not had much contact with previously, revealed that she was involved in a project to reprocess all historic passive microwave datasets, and asked us to be early adopters. This, as it subsequently turns out, is very timely as I've been approached by a different colleague to use the historic passive microwave datasets to generate new Earth surface products.
Adam Winstral, a long-standing colleague of mine from the USDA, helped me to understand how to generate forcing data to run a point snow model that we use over larger areas. This has been a block on our research to date. I also
managed to spend some time with Martin Schneebeli from the Swiss Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research. He is organising a workshop immediately before our MICROSNOW workshop next August (both in Reading, UK), and we
discussed plans for the workshop and our aims for the code aspects (I'm fairly sure I mentioned SSI a few times).
For me, one of the big highlights of the meeting was the discussion that I had with Aleksandra Pawlik. Although we talked about lots of things, I mentioned a proposal that we are planning to put together to have a 'model farm' of snow microwave and snow evolution models. One of the coding practices that I became aware of at the Town Hall was paired programming. Ideally, I'd like a pool of software engineers to pair with a pool of researchers (I have 4 in
mind) to generate the model farm. Aleksandra suggested that this is a non-standard, novel pairing, and could be funded through alternative schemes rather than the traditional research council as a test case. This is something that I would like to follow-up on, particularly with help from SSI (I have no idea about the details in order to frame this as a proposal).