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Re: st: Reading NetCDF files

From   Gordon Hughes <>
Subject   Re: st: Reading NetCDF files
Date   Thu, 16 Feb 2012 11:43:24 +0000

Thank you for the various suggestions. Some conclusions might be useful for anyone else facing the same problem:

A. There are quite a number of programs that will extract from or use data in NetCDF files but all involve a minimum of one or two intermediate steps before the data can be imported into Stata. It would be nice to eliminate this, but I don't have the time or (probably) expertise to take it on because, at a minimum, it will involve linking C or Fortran programs to Stata.

B. Linux & other Unix derivatives are much better served than either Windows or Mac OS-X in this area.

C. Almost certainly, the most direct route is to use Matlab which has built-in routines for accessing NetCDF files. Octave & R provide alternatives, but the routines are not as convenient and they rely on user-written packages.

D. There are some nice programs written in Java - hence available on Windows & Macs - which are designed to display maps and other figures from NetCDF data. Some contain options to produce text files containing the data which can be edited for use with Stata. Personally, I have found Panoply (written and maintained by people at the NASA GISS centre) very easy to use. It can generate cdl text files; these are large and a bit tedious to edit but quite straightforward in format.

Gordon Hughes

At 14:45 15/02/2012, you wrote:
I don't know of a NetCDF reader, but one alternative to consider might be to convert it to another format that is understood by stata. There is a JSON reader (user-written insheetjson command, available by the stata command "net install insheetjson")
and there seems to be a NetCDF-to-JSON converter available at:

Just an alternative to consider...

- Erik

> Date: Tue, 14 Feb 2012 18:42:28 +0000
> From: Gordon Hughes <>
> Subject: st: Reading NetCDF files
> Dear Statalist,
> Is anyone aware of a Stata user-written routine or other method of
> importing data stored in NetCDF files into Stata?
> As background, NetCDF denotes the Network Common Data Form, a binary
> file format which is widely used for climate data and other data
> compiled by geophysicists, earth scientists, etc.
> There are libraries written in C, Fortran & Java which can be used to
> read NetCDF files but I was trying to avoid the need to special
> purpose routines to extract the data.  In addition, I believe that
> there are R modules which can read NetCDF files, but this means a
> struggle to remember the details of R data structures.
> I would be very grateful for any suggestions.
> Gordon Hughes

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