CF (Climate and Forecast) Metadata Conventions

The CF standard was originally framed as a standard for data written in netCDF format, with model-generated climate forecast data particularly in mind. However, it is equally applicable to observational datasets, and can be used to describe other formats. It is a standard for “use metadata” that aims both to distinguish quantities (such as physical description, units, and prior processing) and to locate the data in space–time.

Sponsored by the NetCDF Climate and Forecast Metadata Convention, the current version dates from December 2011.

Tools

CF Compliance Checker

A utility that checks netCDF files for CF-compliance.

CMOR - Climate Model Output Rewriter

A set of C-based functions, with bindings to both Python and FORTRAN 90, that can be used to produce CF-compliant netCDF files.

NetCDF

A set of software libraries and self-describing, machine-independent data formats that conform to the CF metadata conventions. They support the creation, access, and sharing of array-oriented scientific data.

Use Cases

BADC - British Atmospheric Data Centre

The Natural Environment Research Council's (NERC) Designated Data Centre for the Atmospheric Sciences. It uses the CF-Compliant NetCDF format for its datasets.

BODC - British Oceanographic Data Centre Published Data Library

This national facility for looking after and distributing data concerning the marine environment requires that data sets use a well-documented format such as CF-compliant NetCDF and be accompanied by a Dublin Core record as well as discovery metadata in a recognised standard such as DIF or FGDC/CDGM.

Met Office Hadley Centre

A number of projects at the Hadley Center require CF-Compliant NetCDF files, including HadAT and Transpose AMIP.

NCAR - National Center for Atmospheric Research

The NCAR Research Data Archive uses CF-Compliant NetCDF files.

Ocean Networks Canada

Ocean Networks Canada operates the NEPTUNE and VENUS cabled ocean observatories that collect data on physical, chemical, biological, and geological aspects of the ocean over long time periods, supporting research on complex Earth processes. The CF standard is used within netCDF data products delivered through the Oceans 2.0 interface and via OPeNDAP webservices.

Projects and Groups Using the CF-Conventions

The CF Metadata Website's list of projects and groups adopting or encouraging the CF-Conventions as a standard.

Unidata's CF Use Cases

The 2011 Unidata NetCDF Workshop's list of projects and groups adopting or encouraging the CF-Conventions as a standard.