The Adaguc server can visualise a number of dataypes from data in NetCDF datafiles (NetCDF3 and NetCDF4). Data can also be read from some types of HDF5 files, like HDF5 files according to the KNMI HDF5 specification. When NetCDF data is following the CF conventions, simple automated visualisation is possible by using this extra information. The CF Conventions are described in detail on the CF-Metadata site.

Data types

Structured Grid or field information - Model/satellite/radar etc. (NetCDF)

NetCDF files using structured grids contain variables with gridded data, this type of NetCDF file occur most frequently. There are two types of structured grids, unprojected grids in standard lat/lon projection and projected grids described according a geographical projection. When projected data is used, parameter variables need to link to projection variables to describe the geographical projection and projection coordinates need to be described. Usually the geographical projection is also described by giving all longitudes and latitudes for all grid points. These files are the "classic" examples of CF Convention following files. ADAGUC only uses the projection variable and the projection coordinates to calculated the coordinates for each grid point, it does not read all latitudes and longitudes for every grid point and are not required to plot the data correctly.

Example of a regular lat/lon NetCDF file (topleft image):

netcdf latlon {
    lon = 360 ;
    lat = 180 ;
    time = 12 ;
    double lon(lon) ;
        lon:long_name = "longitude" ;
        lon:standard_name = "longitude" ;
        lon:units = "degrees_east" ;
    double lat(lat) ;
        lat:long_name = "latitude" ;
        lat:standard_name = "latitude" ;
        lat:units = "degrees_north" ;
    double time(time) ;
        time:long_name = "time" ;
        time:units = "days since 2010-01-01 00:00:00" ;
    double NOx(time, lat, lon) ;
        NOx:Units = "Gg N/km2" ;

// global attributes:
        :Conventions = "CF-1.4" ;

Example of a projected coordinate system, uses a polar stereographic projection (topright image):

netcdf projected {
    x = 700 ;
    y = 765 ;
    time = 1 ;
    double x(x) ;
        x:long_name = "x coordinate of projection" ;
        x:standard_name = "projection_x_coordinate" ;
        x:units = "km" ;
    double y(y) ;
        y:long_name = "y coordinate of projection" ;
        y:standard_name = "projection_y_coordinate" ;
        y:units = "km" ;
    double time(time) ;
        time:units = "minutes since 1950-01-01 0:0:0" ;
        time:long_name = "time" ;
        time:standard_name = "time" ;
    float precipitation(time, y, x) ;
        precipitation:grid_mapping = "projection" ;
        precipitation:_FillValue = -1.f ;
        precipitation:long_name = "precipitation flux" ;
        precipitation:units = "kg/m2/h" ;
        precipitation:standard_name = "precipitation_flux" ;
    char projection ;
        projection:EPSG_code = "none" ;
        projection:grid_mapping_name = "polar_stereographic" ;
        projection:latitude_of_projection_origin = 90. ;
        projection:straight_vertical_longitude_from_pole = 0. ;
        projection:scale_factor_at_projection_origin = 0.933012709177451 ;
        projection:false_easting = 0. ;
        projection:false_northing = 0. ;
        projection:semi_major_axis = 6378140. ;
        projection:semi_minor_axis = 6356750. ;
        projection:proj4_params = "+proj=stere +lat_0=90 +lon_0=0 +lat_ts=60 +a=6378.14 +b=6356.75 +x_0=0 y_0=0" ;
        projection:long_name = "projection" ;

// global attributes:
        :Conventions = "CF-1.4" ;

RGBA grid information / True color images (NetCDF)

A special case are geographical grids which do not contain values of a parameter, but contains the RGBA value of the colour that should be presented at that grid point. This kind of information is usually found in satellite products, where the values of different bands are combined (composited) into one RGB or RGBA value. The value of the parameter at a grid point is the value that should be plotted on the visualisation. You could see these fields as color photos, where each pixel is georeferenced.

The CF-conventions currently have no way to describe these parameters, so these files are generated as fields of 32 bit unsigned integers, each containing an RGBA value. The configuration of the layer tells the service that the parameter values should be interpreted as pixel color values, this can be done by choosing RenderMethod rgba. The service can then reproject the image from the source projection, if needed, by doing a nearest neighbor "interpolation". When the standard_name "rgba" and units "rgba" is given for the corresponding variable, the system detects that this is a RGBA/True color variable. The variable type should be unsigned integer (NC_UINT) and represents 4 bytes for R,G,B and A respectively.

netcdf butterfly_fromjpg_truecolor {
    y = 1080 ;
    x = 1920 ;
    time = 1 ;
    double y(y) ;
        y:units = "m" ;
        y:standard_name = "projection_y_coordinate" ;
    double x(x) ;
        x:units = "m" ;
        x:standard_name = "projection_x_coordinate" ;
    double time(time) ;
        time:units = "seconds since 1970-01-01 00:00:00" ;
        time:standard_name = "time" ;
    byte projection ;
        projection:proj4 = "+proj=sterea +lat_0=52.15616055555555 +lon_0=5.38763888888889 +k=0.9999079 +x_0=155000 +y_0=463000 +ellps=bessel +units=m +no_defs" ;
    uint butterfly(time, y, x) ;
        butterfly:units = "rgba" ;
        butterfly:standard_name = "rgba" ;
        butterfly:long_name = "butterfly" ;
        butterfly:grid_mapping = "projection" ;

// global attributes:
        :Conventions = "CF-1.4" ;

Point data (NetCDF)

Point data is new in CF Conventions is characterised by a global attribute featureType = "timeSeries" in the NetCDF file.

A detailed example is described here: Pointtimeseries_example

Forecast reference times from model runs

Adaguc can display model data with forecasts. Multiple files with different forecast_reference_time's and overlapping times can be aggregated in a single layer.

A variable with standard_name forecast_reference_time should be present in the netcdf file(s):

double forecast_reference_time ;
                forecast_reference_time:units = "seconds since 1970-01-01 00:00:00 +00:00" ;
                forecast_reference_time:standard_name = "forecast_reference_time" 

This variable can be either a scalar or a variable with multiple dates.

Ugrid data

Experimental support for UGRID data (meshes and polygons) is built in. When a NetCDF file with UGRID convention is configured in the service, the service will render a GetMap image with the UGRID mesh displayed in it.

For details on the UGRID format you can visit

Curvilinear data

Vector data - Swath information (NetCDF)

The ADAGUC service can handle swath data from orbiting satellites in the so called ADAGUC-format, described at (called vector data there). This data is organized in time related rows of geographical "tiles" or "pixels" each representing one measured value.

Swath data - ASCAT data (NetCDF)

The ASCAT NetCDF data format (see describes measured wind direction and wind speed (and some other parameters) for polar orbiting satellites. This file format is recognised by the ADAGUC server.
Data is organised in a grid of values for a certain parameter. Wind direction and wind speed (which are the main scatterometer products)can be depicted by the service as wind barbs or wind vectors.
The ADAGUC standard distinguishes between geographic raster data and projected raster data. The grid of geographic raster data can be described by two axes (two series of points). The grid of projected raster data also has two axes, but these do not contain geographic coordinates. The NetCDF files contain parameters (two-dimensional) for the latitude and longitude of each grid-point. This kind of raster is for example found in numerical model data with a rotated lat-lon grid like HIRLAM.

Vector components in gridded fields, e.g. U and V for wind (NetCDF)

In certain data sets, in particular in the case of numerical weather model output, wind is available as two vector components. For displaying wind vectors or wind barbs these two components have to be combined into a wind direction parameter and a wind speed parameter. These u and v vectors can be oriented along the model grid or can be oriented along true north/east directions. The former case is often found in models which have a rotated grid; these rotations are sometimes used to get rid of erratic behaviour of models around the poles. For example HIRLAM data is expressed in a rotated lat lon grid, with grid-oriented u and v vectors.
When calculating (wind) speed and direction from grid-oriented u and v vectors for display of barbs or vectors, the service takes into account the rotated grid if needed by inspection of the standard_name attribute of the u-component.

HDF5 data

The ADAGUC service can read HDF5 files in the KNMI HDF5 format. These files for satellite and radar measurements contain metadata for the projection and the time of the measurement. The ADAGUC service can not handle HDF5 lightning files currently, nor can it handle radar elevation data.
Update since 2015-07-13
The server is able to read KNMI HDF5 precipitation forecast data. These files contain several image groups with a forecast date timestamp. These image groups are aggregated to a single variable with time dimension, this new variable is called "forecast". An example file is attached. See

Data organisation

Tools to handle data

Generic NetCDF tools - ncgen and ncdump

The NetCDF4 software contains two very useful tools for exploring and manipulating NetCDF data files.

  1. ncdump can show the contents (headers only or headers and data) for any NetCDF file (or OpenDAP url). It has several command-line options (like -h for showing headers only). ncdump is very useful for inspection of NetCDF data when configuring an ADAGUC service layer.
  2. ncgen can generate a NetCDF file from an ASCII file in the CDL format which happens to be the format that ncdump dumps the data in. So for simple NetCDF manipulations one could ncdump the file, edit the resulting text and run that through ncgen to generate a new NetCDF file.

GRIB data conversion tools

Weather model data is most often coded in GRIB-1 or GRIB-2 format. Some tools which can convert GRIB files to NetCDF files are:
- grib2netcdf from ECMWF's grib_api package (in development)
- cdo from the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology (
- fimex from the Norwegian Meteorological Institute ( which is a nice tool for generating NetCDF data from GRIB files.

Manipulating NetCDF data with Python

Python has some very good possibilities for manipulating large fields of data and writing data into NetCDF4 files is fairly easy with the netcdf4-python library. In combination with for example the grib_api library and/or the pygrib library converters can be built from GRIB to NetCDF.
Python also has Numpy modules which make handling of large arrays easy.

Satellite data with PyTroll

Satellite data from polar orbiting and geostationary satellites can be turned into products with the pytroll software, based on Python. A module to generate RGBA or normal grid products as part of Pytroll is almost finished.

regular_grids_globemission.jpg View (139 KB) Maarten Plieger, 06/15/2015 08:16 PM

projected_grid_radnl25.jpg View (118 KB) Maarten Plieger, 06/15/2015 08:17 PM

curvilinear_adaguc.jpg View (120 KB) Maarten Plieger, 06/15/2015 08:17 PM

truecolor_rgba_netcdf_adaguc.jpg View (101 KB) Maarten Plieger, 06/15/2015 08:18 PM

point_timeseries_adaguc_automated_weatherobservations.jpg View (40.6 KB) Maarten Plieger, 06/15/2015 08:28 PM

ugrid_mesh_adaguc.jpg View (30.9 KB) Maarten Plieger, 06/15/2015 08:29 PM

regular_and_projected_grids.jpg View (104 KB) Maarten Plieger, 06/15/2015 08:34 PM

RAD_NL25_PCP_FM_201506180815.h5 (933 KB) Maarten Plieger, 07/13/2015 01:50 PM