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Why use netCDF

  • NetCDF is used extensively in the atmospheric and oceanic science communities.
  • NetCDF is a portable self-describing binary data format.
  • NetCDF is network-transparent, meaning that it can be accessed by computers that store integers, characters and floating-point numbers in different ways.
  • NetCDF provides direct-access: a small subset of a large dataset may be accessed efficiently, without first reading through all the preceding data.
  • NetCDF is appendable: data can be appended to a NetCDF dataset along one dimension without copying the dataset or redefining its structure.
  • NetCDF datasets can be read and written in a number of languages, these include C, C++, FORTRAN, idl, Python, Perl, and Java.
  • The different language implementations are freely available from UNIDATA or from other mirror sites
  • Several graphics packages support netCDF input, making it very easy to display and analyse netCDF datasets. For instance FERRET provides both command line and graphical user interfaces for displaying and analysing gridded data.
  • NetCDF is completely and methodically documented in UNIDATA's NetCDF User's Guide
  • Several groups have defined conventions for netCDF files, to enable the exchange of data.