Where is NetCDF Used?
Making the software available freely available without registration
makes it difficult
to know where and how netCDF is being used, but we have compiled a
list of over 1300 educational, research, and government sites that have
recently made some use of netCDF, based on
downloads from the Unidata site (ftp and http)
subscribers and posters to netCDF mailing lists
email support requests
participation in annual netCDF workshops
during the period from 2012-04-01 through 2013-04-01.
Recent standardization efforts have resulted in netCDF endorsements by
several standards bodies.
Here is a partial list
of organizations using netCDF for archiving and
accessing some of their data:
NOAA NODC (National Oceanographic Data Center)
NCEP NOMADS service
NCDC NOMADS service
NDBC (National Buoy Data Center)
ESRL (formerly CDC)
EUMETSAT Data Centre
GOES-R Ground Segment Products
DOE/PCMDI CMIP5 climate model outputs
US Navy/ Fleet Numerical/GODAE Data Server
National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC)
USGS, Woods Hole Field Center (WHFC)
National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)
Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies (COLA)
George Mason University (GMU) Center for Earth Observing and Space Research
Asia-Pacific Data-Research Center (APDRC)
(Australia) CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research (CMAR) Remote Sensing
(Australia) Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research (CAWCR)
(France) AVISO (satellite data)
(France) French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea (IFREMER)
(Germany) Federal Waterways Engineering and Research Institute (BAW)
(Germany) German Aerospace Agency (DLR)
(Italy) International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP)
(South Korea) Seoul National University (SNU)
(Netherlands) European Climate Assessment (ECA), Atmospheric
Data Access for the Geospatial User Community (ADAGUC) product standard
(Netherlands) Cabauw Experimental Site for Atmospheric Research (CESAR)
We list below brief descriptions of some of the projects
and groups that have reported on their use of netCDF.
Several commercial analysis and data visualization packages have been adapted
to access netCDF data. For more information about these and about freely-available
software packages that can be used to display, analyze, and manipulate netCDF
data, see the http://www.unidata.ucar.edu/software/netcdf/software.html
NOAA's Climate Analysis
Branch (CAB), conducts diagnostic studies of climate variability
on time scales of months to centuries. CAB climatological data is
archived in netCDF format.
This site gives access to metadata (information about these datasets) which
can be searched by various keywords; actual data can be subset or plotted
on-line and can be downloaded via ftp.
Modeling groups contributing output to the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
model archives at the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and
Intercomparison (PCMDI) are required to provide files in netCDF
conforming with the NetCDF Climate and Forecast (CF) Metadata
EUMETSAT has begun to offer netCDF as a common delivery format
for popular datasets ordered from their archive. The developed
datasets use netCDF-4 classic model format.
NASA's Halogen Occultation Experiment ( HALOE) makes HALOE data available in
netCDF form. The HALOE Data Viewer
provides each data type with a menu driven interface to assist in locating
files based on date, time, species, data version and mode.
The global ocean modeling effort at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL),
as part of the DOE CHAMMP effort and
one of the DOE Grand Challenges, has selected netCDF as the archival format
for its computational data. An effort to bring netCDF up on the parallel disks
on the CM-5 is planned to begin shortly.
The National Center for Supercomputing Applications has incorporated the
netCDF 2.3 interfaces into the latest release of their HDF
software, permitting HDF tools that use this interface to be applied to netCDF
datasets that are either XDR- or HDF-encoded.
The Computer Planning Committee of NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental
Laboratory (PMEL) endorsed netCDF as the preferred data format for the Laboratory
in early 1993. PMEL has developed two freely-distributed applications that
utilize NetCDF -- the EPIC system (for observational data) and Ferret (gridded
EPIC is a system for management,
display and analysis of oceanographic time series and hydrographic data.
EPIC toolkits for netCDF include a data file I/O library, which is layered
on top of the netCDF library, a netCDF calculator (nccalc) linked with a
scientific graphics package (PPLUS), a suite of display and analysis programs
for oceanographic data, and a MATLAB interface to netCDF.
Ferret is a visualization
and analysis program, also built upon the PPLUS program, that permits users
to explore large and complex gridded data sets. New variables may be defined
interactively as mathematical transformations. Complex analyses proceed
as hierarchical variable definitions. Visit Live Access to Climate Data
for a better sense of the Ferret program.
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
of Columbia University has converted all Marine Geophysics data (gravity,
magnetics and bathymetry) acquired in the past 40 years by scientists at L-DEO
as well as at other institutions to netCDF. The Marine Geology & Geophysics Database
is a fundamental resource for Lamont scientists and students.
The Generic Mapping Tools (GMT),
a set of command-line tools for data manipulation and display using PostScript,
make use of netCDF for storage of 2-D gridded data sets. GMT is used worldwide
by about 6000 scientists, according to the developers.
The Models-3 Project,
being cooperatively pursued by the EPA's Atmospheric Research Laboratory
and by North Carolina Supercomputing Center, is using an environmental-modeling-specific
applications programming interface on top of UCAR's netCDF as the means
for persistent storage of both observational and model-output data, as well
as for storing sets of data-file-structure definitions and (prototype, so
far) data-dependency graphs for scheduling the sets of programs which constitute
their environmental models.
A group in the Atmospheric Chemistry Division at NCAR (the National Center
for Atmospheric Research) that deals with UARS (Upper Atmospheric Research
Satellite) data uses netCDF for their binary data format. Output from NCAR's
High Altitude Observatory Division Thermospheric General Circulation Model
(TGCM) and related models are converted to netCDF files for post-model visualization
and diagnostic codes. NCAR's Research Aviation Facility has decided to
use netCDF to distribute aircraft data.
NCAR's Research Data Program uses netCDF as the primary file format
for data archived and used in the Zebra display and analysis system.
Quick look data from various projects is distributed by RDP in netCDF. NetCDF
is also the file format used by the (Zebra-based) Integrated Sounding System.
The Cooperative Program for Operation Meteorology, Education, and Training
(COMET), a program of UCAR, has created an extensive archive of meteorological
case studies that contain observed and gridded data in netCDF. The netCDF
definition in use was created by the Forecast Systems Laboratory (FSL), a
NOAA agency, and files in this format are required for capatability with their
PC-DARE workstations which are used in the COMET teaching classroom. COMET
plans to create future case studies using the netCDF conventions currently
being developed by a working group of Unidata, COMET, and FSL personnel.
Climate data are archived at several of the NOAA Regional Climate Centers
(RCCs) usuig netCDF files. The netCDF software provides rapid access to
time-series data and is at the core of a newly developed distributed data
access system that will be employed at all of the NOAA RCCs and will be
linked to the NOAA Virtual Data System (NVDS).
The Earth Scan Lab, an HRPT ground station at Coastal Studies Institute,
is using both the Terascan TDF as well as the netCDF for ease of data exhange
of AVHRR, TOVS and DCS data. Further, in conjunction with Woods Hole, Scripps
and Texas A&M, CSI will be maintaining all oceanographic data in netCDF.
DataHub from JPL, with funding from AISRP/NASA identifies and converts between
a variety of data format, CDF, HDF, MMM/netCDF, FITS, PDS, ... Work is under
way to support conversion from a variety of NASA data formats to netCDF used
by the PolyPaint+ visualization system from NCAR's MMM division. (JPL
Contact for DataHub: Tom Handley, email@example.com)
A major component of the US Climate and Global Change program is the TOGA-TAO
Array in the tropical Pacific, which proposes to maintain approximately 70
moored ATLAS wind and thermistor chain and current meter buoys, spanning the
Pacific ocean from 95W to 137E in the equatorial wave guide. The TAO Project
Office, at PMEL, has developed distribution and display software for the real-time
data from the TAO buoys, in a point-and-click UNIX workstation environment.
This software is distributed nationally and internationally. All data is stored
and distributed in netCDF format. All graphics displays and animations are
produced with the EPIC tools for working with netCDF data files.
The Woods Hole Field Center of the U.S.G.S. Marine and Coastal Geology Program
uses netCDF to access a variety of scientific data sets, including output
from circulation and sediment tranport models, sonar imagery, digital elevation
models, and environmental sensor data. They also make available the NetCDF Toolbox for
At the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, netCDF is used in several areas.
Ships in the UNOLS fleet are recording measurements from the IMET systems
in netCDF form. These data include wind, barometer, humidity, air and sea
temperature, precipitation, short wave radiation, and GPS navigation. Data
sets from these systems taken during the WOCE experiments in the Pacific have
been archived recently at NCAR. Also, measurements from a diverse set of instruments
deployed on buoys for the Subduction, TOGA/COARE, and several other experiments
are translated into netCDF form for processing and archival. Reports that
describe the software systems used for these processing activities are available
Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) and the University Corporation
for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) conducted a multi-platform climate field project
during March of 1994 based in Nadi, Fiji. All data from this experiment will
be archived using Unidata's netCDF before release to the scientific community.
The Oregon State University Oceanographic Research Vessel WECOMA
uses the netCDF library for primary scientific data logging. This includes
navigational, meteorological, and other miscellaneous data. This logging is
part of a client/server system for data distribution, display, and management
known as XMIDAS.
NOAA's Forecast System Laboratory
has adopted netCDF as a data access interface for some of their systems and
The CSIRO Division of Atmospheric
Research in Australia uses netCDF to store all their GCM and ocean model results.
The Cabauw Experimental Site for Atmospheric Research (Cesar) is
a consortium of presently eight institutes and universities located
in the Netherlands. The goal of the consortium is to operate and
maintain at the Cabauw site a unique observational facility with a
comprehensive set of remote sensing and in-situ equipment to
characterize the state of the atmosphere, its radiative properties
and the interaction with the land surface. All the data are stored
in netCDF formatted files and comply with the CF-1.4 convention.
Meteorological data from satellites is stored in netCDF form at CIRES (Cooperative
Institute for Research in the Environmental Sciences) and several data analysis
packages have been written to display and analyze the netCDF data.
A general purpose finite element data model (referred to as EXODUS II) utilizing
netCDF has been developed at Sandia National Laboratories. It consists of
a C and FORTRAN application programming interface (API) to read and write
geometry and results (including time varying data) for finite element analyses.
For more information, contact Larry Schoof (firstname.lastname@example.org).
MBDyn is an
open-source Multi-body dynamics analysis system that
uses netCDF as its output format. MBDyn features the integrated
multidisciplinary analysis of multibody, multiphysics systems,
including nonlinear mechanics of rigid and flexible constrained
bodies, smart materials, electric networks, active control,
hydraulic networks, essential fixed-wing and rotorcraft
NetCDF is the vehicle adopted by the Analytical Instrument Association [AIA]
to implement the Analytical Data Interchange Protocols [Andi Protocols] for
chromatography [released in 1992] and mass spectrometry [released in 1994].
Protocols increase laboratory efficiency and productivity
by facilitating the integration and use of data from multiple vendors'
products. For more information about the Andi chromatography protocols, see
the article "Standards for
Chromatography Data Systems: ASTM adopts protocols for analytical data interchange
(Andi)" from May 1998 issue of the American Chemical Society publication Today's Chemist at Work The resulting standard specifications and
guides may be downloaded from ASTM:
Further development related to these standards now seems to be under the purview of
an ASTM subcommittee E13.15 on analytical Data Management, at the
Source Forge site http://andi.sourceforge.net/.
The Positron Imaging Laboratories and the Neuro-Imaging Laboratory of the
Montreal Neurological Institute have selected netCDF as the data format for
their medical image files. Conventions for variable and attribute names and
values have been established for the medical imaging context. These conventions,
along with a package of routines to assist in handling image data, make up
the MINC (Medical Image NetCDF) format. For more information, contact Peter
Neelin (email@example.com) or see http://www.bic.mni.mcgill.ca/software/minc/.
In the field of molecular dynamics and the simulation of
conventions are now used
for storing and accessing trajectory files associated
with the AMBER
In computational biology, specifically flow cytometry, netCDF/HDF5
format has been used in new OpenCyto software. See
Finak G, Frelinger J, Jiang W, Newell EW, Ramey J, et al. (2014) OpenCyto: An Open Source Infrastructure for Scalable, Robust, Reproducible, and
Automated, End-to-End Flow Cytometry Data Analysis. PLoS Comput Biol 10(8): e1003806. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003806.
At the Federal Waterways Engineering and Research Institute (BAW),
netCDF is used in several ways. In combination with the UGRID conventions
computational results from different hydrodynamic numerical models are stored for unstructured grids,
e.g. water level, current velocity, and salinity. NetCDF is also used to store derived quantities
like tidal high and low water, tidal range and many other similar characteristic numbers. In addition,
measured data (tide gauge data, ADCP) are also stored in netCDF files based on NOAA's
NODC NetCDF templates.
The German Aerospace Agency (DLR), located in Munich, are using netcdf-4 / CF
standards for the provision of L2 data for S5p mission including L2
products such as Sulfur Dioxide, Ozone, Formaldehyde and Clouds