I want to add a few comments to the latest proposals about coordinate systems. In general, I agree with Walker and Waring's post http://www.unidata.ucar.edu/software/netcdf/coords/0058.html In particular their comment about multidimensional coordinate variables (as proposed by me and others) that: "From a purely mathematical (and esthetic)point of view, we also find the implied statement that d1, for example, depends on things other than d1, is confusing and illogical. There is a real temptation here to confuse the role of data dimensions and coordinates." I have come to the same conclusion by a different route, namely by considering coordinate systems in a formal and general way. And so I currently am leaning towards leaving coordinate vars 1-dimensional, and explicitly specifying coordinate systems in a named attribute. I plan to post soon some formal definitions that I hope will be useful, also various examples that would be useful for a convention to cover, and that I hope others will contribute to. One part of their example I disagree with is lumping all of the coordinate functions together: double salt(n,k,j,i); salt:long_name = "Salinity"; salt:units = "1"; salt:coordinates = "t cell_z cell_y cell_x cell_lat cell_lon"; While there's nothing illegal about it, better is: salt:coordinates_xy = "t cell_z cell_y cell_x"; salt:coordinates_latlon = "t cell_z cell_lat cell_lon"; emphasizing that you are specifying two coordinate systems. ---- The proposal by Gregory, Drach and Tett (GDT) is an ambitious effort to specify quite a lot of new meaning. It's really too big to chew on all at once, but it will be useful to refer back to, and take the issues one at a time. Since I've been thinking a lot about coordinate systems that should be useful for any netcdf use, I would like to complete that discussion first, then use whatever agreements we might make as a foundation for the "higher level" semantics needed for climate data. Of course, keeping in mind specific examples from our specialties is of absolute importance as we try to come up with a general, abstract solution. Thats why I want to construct a list of concrete examples to compare any proposal against. In that context I will make a few comment about the GDT proposal as it intersects our coordinate system discussion. The numbers refer to their section numbers at http://www-pcmdi.llnl.gov/drach/netCDF.html 8. The notion of "axes", though intuitive, is too imprecise for me. As I mentioned above, I will post my own attempt at precision in a few days. Requiring a variable's dimensions to be all different solves some difficult problems, but I havent yet decided if its necessary. Requiring a special ordering of spatiotemporal dimensions, ala COORDS, seems clumsy. What problem is being solved? Proposed use of singleton dimensions seems to be similar to attaching an attribute. When should one or the other be used? 8,9 Requiring all dimensions to have a (1D) coordinate variable, even if its a "dummy" that simply echoes the index, seems unnecessary. I also think that in general coordinate variables need only be unique, not monotonic. 10. This section actually refers (I think) to a georeferencing coordinate system. which is a special case of a coordinate system. Better to make a general solution to georeferencing coordinate system, of which rotated grids would be a special case. 11. The problem with using udunits as a reference is udunits.dat which is intended to be extended by the user, so you always have to ask: what version? and what extensions? 12. I have mixed feelings about requiring "quantity" attribute to be from a canonical list. I would prefer to use that solution as a last resort. 13. Doesn't lat,lon being in degrees imply topolgy="circular"? 14, 15, 16. I dont like the "units matching" convention of COORDS, ambiguous about "quantity" attribute, and I realize that a proposal I would likely make would also be to name the spatiotemporal coordinate functions. 17,18, 19, 21. ancillary, component, associated, boundry coordinate variables: I hope to propose a simpler, and more general solution. 20. I think of these as vectors, and don't particularly need special handling. A generalized understanding of a coordinate system, of which a georeferencing coordinate system is a special case, should suffice. 23. the notion of contracted dimensions seems useful.