Working with netCDF in ESRI ArcGIS

Integration of atmospheric data with GIS tools

NetCDF is a data format and library designed to store multidimensional arrays of scientific data, and is widely used in atmospheric sciences and oceanography.  Unidata, a largely NSF funded program under the University corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), is the “home” of NetCDF. 

NetCDF in ArcGIS

NetCDF is a supported format in ArcGIS 9.2 and higher.  With the Multidimension Tools toolbox, you can create raster layers, feature layers, and table views from NetCDF data in ArcMap, or convert feature, raster, and table data to NetCDF.

Raster Layer

If your data is evenly spaced then you can add NetCDF as a raster layer in ArcMap

Click the Show/Hide ArcToolbox button on the main toolbar to open ArcToolbox as a window in ArcMap.

Double click on the tool Make NetCDF Raster Layer.

In the new dialog box click the browse button and navigate to <your data.nc>

 

Make sure the following parameters are selected for the dialog box:

Variables                                      Choose 1 variable you want to display

X Variables                                  lon or X

Y Variables                                  lat  or Y

Output Raster Layer                    layer name

Band Dimension (optional)         <none>

Dimension Value (optional)        if your data have 3 or 4 dimensions specify them here such as time or pressure

This dimenions will appear in the Dimension list below the Dimension Value. In the corresponding Value list, click once.

Click OK to bring in the netCDF file when you have set all the parameters.

 

Feature Layer

If your data is lat/lon and not evenly spaced then you can add NetCDF as a feature layer in ArcMap

Click the Show/Hide ArcToolbox button on the main toolbar to open ArcToolbox as a window in ArcMap.

In the ArcToolbox window, expand the Multidimension Tools toolbox.

Double click on Make NetCDF Feature Layer to open the tool dialog box.

In the new dialog box click the browse button.  Navigate to <your data.nc>

Make sure the following parameters are selected for the dialog box:

Variable                             Choose 1 variable you want to display

X Variables                        lon or X

Y Variables                         lat  or Y

Output Raster Layer            <layer name>

Row Dimension (optional)   lat/lon or X/Y  this parameter is very important it defines how many features will appear in your map.  If you forget to do this parameter you will get 1 point.  Here you are defining how many rows and columns.

Dimension Value (optional)   if your data have 3 or 4 dimensions specify them here such as time or pressure

This dimenions will appear in the Dimension list below the Dimension Value. In the corresponding Value list, click once.

Click OK to bring in the netCDF file when you have set all the parameters.