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by rohan — last modified 2014-11-13 13:50

The Network Common Data Format (netCDF) is an interface to a library of data access routines for storing and retrieving scientific data. NetCDF allows the creation of data sets that are self-describing and network-transparent. NetCDF was created under contract with the Division of Atmospheric Sciences of the National Scientific Foundation and is available from the Unidata Program Center in Boulder, Colorado (on Internet:

This chapter provides directions for creating netCDF data files. In addition to the documentation provided here, refer to the NetCDF User's Guide, published by Unidata Program Center, for further guidance. A user who uses and creates netCDF files within the Ferret environment needs no additional software.

NetCDF is a very flexible standard. In most cases there are multiple styles or profiles that could be used to encode data into netCDF. To resolve the ambiguities inherent in this multiplicity communities of users have banded together to develop profiles—documents that provide more detail on how data should be encoded into netCDF. Ferret adheres to the COARDS standard.

The COARDS standards are a subset of the CF standard for netCDF files. Ferret does not implement all of the CF standard, but conforms to that standard for the portions that are implemented. The document document defining the CF standard may be found at

Note that Ferret variables may have only six dimensions.  Ferret is consistent with the CF conventions but does not implement everything in the standard.

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