RAMADDA Manages Diverse Digital Content

Globe Animation
Animation from a NOAA RAMADDA server
(Click to enlarge)

If you are a student, educator, or researcher in the Earth Science community, your work probably involves a broad range of digital content — web pages, documents, photos, GIS data, instrument data, model data, etc. RAMADDA — the Repository for Archiving and MAnaging Diverse DAta — provides a place to manage all of this digital stuff. A data/content management and visualization platform originally created at Unidata, the system is now developed and maintained as an open source project by Jeff McWhirter of Geode Systems and other community members. RAMADDA installations are currently in use at a number of Earth Science academic and research organizations including Unidata, NOAA, University of Miami, South Dakota School of Mines, the British Antarctic Polar Data Centre, the Indian National Polar Data Center and the Boulder Data Hub.

RAMADDA makes it easy to manage all sorts of digital content, from documents and images to scientific data files in a variety of flavors. Data harvesting features allow the system to ingest available data and process spatial, temporal, and faceted metadata automatically for use in the system's search interface. Content can also be added to the system manually. And RAMADDA makes it easy to create engaging web interfaces to display the digital content using a wiki facility.

Users of the Integrated Data Viewer (IDV) may already be aware of that package's tight integration with RAMADDA. The IDV uses RAMADDA's cataloging interface, and an IDV plugin allows users to publish many types of generated content (such as images, movies, bundles, and data) directly to a RAMADDA server where it can easily be shared with others.

RAMADDA Examples

The following sections illustrate some of the types of data commonly managed by RAMADDA servers. (Click on the thumbnail images to expand them.)

Observation Data

Here is a collection of observation data from the U.S. Naval Academy. This interface is created with RAMADDA's wiki facility and allows the user to interactively explore the data. RAMADDA has deep support for a wide variety of observation data and you can easily create displays like this.

Here is an interactive display of aircraft track data from the CuPIDO field project. The displays are integrated and the flight track can be animated.

This is real-time data of a NOAA SNOTEL Site. It is easy to integrate external sources of data within RAMADDA.

Gridded Data

Gridded model data is the backbone of forecasting and climate research. Grid files in either netCDF or GRIB can easily be ingested by RAMADDA. Spatial, temporal, and faceted metadata is extracted and deep search services are provided to aid in discovery and access. A variety of services are provided including cataloging and other discovery APIs, OPeNDAP for data access, aggregation of multiple grid files and grid subset and time series extraction. The model files can be managed by RAMADDA or accessed remotely via OPeNDAP. Here is a grid display of real-time data from the GFS forecast taken from Unidata's THREDDS data server

Here is an interactive display of multiple time series from an ensemble forecast model. Clicking on the map extracts and displays the time series for that point.

The Facility for Weather and Climate Assessments (FACTS) at the NOAA Physical Sciences Laboratory is developed by Don Murray using RAMADDA. FACTS provides analysis tools; multimodel, multiforcing climate model ensembles; and observational/reanalysis datasets for addressing a wide class of problems on weather and climate variability and its causes.


While you might not immediately think of document files in the context of a scientific data repository, RAMADDA lets you manage document files using the same system you use for other types of data. RAMADDA even extracts the text content from PDF files and indexes it so the documents can be tagged with metadata to facilitate search and discovery.


RAMADDA provides numerous ways to view and interact with image resources, including image loops, galleries, slide shows, and maps. For example, a series of satellite images might be displayed using the built-in animation player.

Training Materials

Technical workshops or seminars often take advantage of curated data sets, visualizations, and written documents. RAMADDA can easily organize different types of content in one place, allowing instructors to provide visual examples and making it easy for students to find all of the materials. For example, Unidata staff member Jeff Weber recently used the system to collect materials for a Unidata SIPI-NTU workshop.

Additional Examples

Check out the Tour of Earth Science Data in RAMADDA or the full set of RAMADDA examples.


RAMADDA is freely available and runs on most systems that can run a Java Virtual Machine. It can run in the cloud, on a local server, or even on your laptop. It is easy to install, configure, and maintain and comes with extensive documentation. Download it from ramadda.org.


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