Extract This! Enhanced Visualization Tool Available at the Data Archive

Published: 15 July 2008
Custom 2-day plot of downwelling shortwave and longwave radiation made using the enhanced NCVweb feature.
Custom 2-day plot of downwelling shortwave and longwave radiation made using the enhanced NCVweb feature.

Like many scientific organizations, the ARM Data Archive stores and distributes atmospheric data from the ARM sites in Network common data form, or NetCDF. This file format applies names or attributes to the various layers of data for efficient identification and processing. Then, using an interactive web-based tool called NCVweb, users can plot the data sets for easy viewing. In June, the Data Archive rolled out an enhancement to the NCVweb tool that allows users to extract a subset of fields from a data stream to create custom NetCDF files. The new data extraction capability also performs a number of visualization functions that would be time-consuming or difficult for users to do themselves, especially users new to ARM-formatted files.

Unlike generic NetCDF data viewers, NCVweb “understands” ARM data file conventions, which results in improved plot displays. It has many powerful features such as producing detailed tables of NetCDF file contents, data extraction, generating statistics, and plotting one variable against another. Using NCVweb, users can plot their data orders from the Archive or plot regular standing data orders. The enhanced tool helps to eliminate the need for and problems associated with downloading large volumes of data, installing and configuring visualization software, or writing custom data exploration software.

The new capability is designed to work on specific quantities of data at one time and is currently limited to extractions from within a single data stream, i.e., it cannot merge data from several data streams into a single output product. A preview of the enhanced NCVweb tool was provided at the 2008 ARM Science Team Meeting, and the feature is now freely accessible from the “Data Access Tools” list at the ARM Data Archive. More detail about the updated NCVweb feature can be found in the support documentation.