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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Software and Data

At UW-AOS, faculty, staff and students have access to and use a wide range of Earth system data and software.


The University of Wisconsin Non-Hydrostatic Model (UWNMS) is a three-dimensional mesoscale model designed to represent the scale interaction process among inertially balanced and unbalanced modes that occur within convective weather systems (Tripoli, 1992a). The UWNMS is designed to conserve kinetic energy against numerical sources and sinks in three-dimensions (Tripoli 1992a,b; Pokrandt et al. 1996; Jascourt 1997; Mecikalski and Tripoli 1998; Rowe and Hitchman 2015, 2016, 2017)


Vis5D is a powerful visualization tool used to analyze output from the UWNMS model. With Vis5d it is possible to create 3-D isosurfaces, horizontal cross sections, vertical slices and volume rendering. Vis5d also has the ability to produce trajectories and vertical soundings. Vis5D was written by the Visualization Project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC) by Bill Hibbard, Johan Kellum, and Brian Paul. For more information on Vis5d, including installation instructions, please visit:


UW-AOS receives a variety of real-time Earth system data through the Unidata Internet Data Distribution project. These include surface and upper air observations, National Weather Service forecast and warning products, gridded analysis and forecast data from NOAA analysis and forecast systems, as well as output from UKMET, ECMWF and others, radar and satellite data.

This data is available through direct disk access or through our department THREDDS server.


The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model is a next-generation mesoscale numerical weather prediction system designed for both atmospheric research and operational forecasting applications. It features two dynamical cores, a data assimilation system, and a software architecture supporting parallel computation and system extensibility. The model serves a wide range of meteorological applications across scales from tens of meters to thousands of kilometers. The effort to develop WRF began in the latter 1990’s and was a collaborative partnership of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (represented by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) and the Earth System Research Laboratory), the U.S. Air Force, the Naval Research Laboratory, the University of Oklahoma, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

WRF is used by a number of UW-AOS Faculty, Staff, and Students to conduct research on a variety of topics.


Python is a free computer programming language that is fairly easy to learn, with code that is quite readable. There are hundreds of modules written that already do much of what you might need to do, whether that’s reading in data, or solving a complicated matrix algebra problem. And unlike many of the other languages used in the Earth Sciences, such as matlab, ncl or IDL, Python is useful for programming tasks far outside of the Earth Science realm. Over the past few years, several UW-AOS classes have been making use of the python programming language for examples and coding assignments.

At UW-AOS, we typically make use of the Anaconda distribution of python, starting with a minimal installation branded miniconda. We maintain a Jupyterhub server that is available for Faculty, Staff and Students to use for classes and research.


GEMPAK is an analysis and display generation package for meteorological data. Originally developed by NCEP for use by the National Centers UCAR’s Unidata Program Center supports a non-operational version of GEMPAK for use in research and education. For more information and installation instructions please visit: