Provide training in data analysis and visualization

Effective analysis and visualization of the vast data produced by CISL resources and the geosciences community at large requires thoughtful outreach and immersive training activities. CISL collaborates with the Climate and Global Dynamics division at NCAR to offer three to five training workshops annually for the NCAR Command Language (NCL) – a free, interpreted language designed specifically for geoscientific data analysis and visualization. Multiple-day NCL workshops combine lectures on data formats, visualizations, and data analysis, with intensive hands-on labs. CISL staff also provides hands-on training for the VAPOR package and related Python tools.

NCL workshop participants
Nineteen participants from 15 national and international universities attended the June 2017 NCL Workshop in Boulder, Colorado. They will use NCL’s data analysis and visualization tools in their research that includes tropical meteorology, ocean modeling, space physics, aviation weather, global change ecology, climate of Antarctica, and air pollution.


CISL integrates research and education to prepare current and future generations of scientists to tackle the challenges of 21st-century computational geoscience research. The NCL and VAPOR training programs are targeted toward students’ specific needs by encouraging students to use their own datasets for analysis and visualization rather than using canned datasets and examples. The instructors work with students individually during the labs, and by the end of the workshop most students have developed nearly complete NCL/Python programs or VAPOR “sessions” that produce meaningful results from their data. CISL proactively reaches out to U.S. university students by offering at least one fully or partially funded NCL workshop at a U.S. university each year, and/or by covering some of the travel expenses for qualified students from EPSCoR universities and minority-serving institutions (MSIs) to attend workshops. (EPSCoR universities are located in states that are deemed to be underserved by federal research and education funding. The goal of the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research – EPSCoR – is to balance national research and education support by strengthening it in these states.) These programs also promote diversity, enhance CISL’s culture of teaching and mentorship, and stimulate collaborations with the university community.

VAPOR tutorials were provided at these events:

  • WRF Tutorial, July 2017, Boulder, Colorado (~30 attendees)
  • WRF Users Conference, January 2017, Boulder (~35 attendees)
  • Jeju University, September 2017, Jeju, Korea (~15 attendees)


NCL workshops and tutorials were presented at these events:

  • NCL Workshop, DKRZ, Hamburg, Germany (~30 attendees)
  • NCL Workshop, January 2017, Boulder (~10 attendees)
  • NCL Tutorial, WRF Users’ Event, June 2017, Boulder, Colorado (~25 attendees)
  • NCL Workshop, June 2017, Boulder (~19 attendees)


WRF-Python training was presented at this event:

  • Tutorial, WRF Users’ Event, June 2017, Boulder, Colorado (~90 attendees)


NSF Core funds provided partial travel support for five EPSCoR students to attend the NCL workshops. The VAPOR tutorial at Jeju University was funded by the Korea Institute for Science and Information Technology and NSF Core funds. The NCL Workshop in Hamburg was funded by Deutches Klimareschenzentrum and NSF Core funds. International travel was supported by funding from the universities. All other VAPOR, NCL, and Python workshops and tutorials were supported by NSF Core funds.