[CF-metadata] variable depth as a dimension in oceanographic models

Gaffney, Sean P. sgaf at bodc.ac.uk
Fri Jan 23 03:56:34 MST 2015

Hi everyone,

Sean Gaffney from the British Oceanographic Data Centre here. Apologies if I'm posting this in the wrong place, but I could use some advice please.

I've been supplied with some numerical model data representing vertical and horizontal currents in 40 depth layers in the North Atlantic, as CF compliant files. The existing dimensions are longitude, latitude, model_level_number and time. However, I've also been supplied in the file with depth for each 3-D cell, but this has just been supplied as a normal variable.

This means that, if someone accesses the BODC model delivery portal, unless they explicitly select depth as an output parameter along with currents, they won't get the depth data, but just the model_level_number as an indicator of the vertical position of the model output in the water column. Feedback from some users is that actual depth values in metres are required to make full use of the current data, but that this can be lost by having to select depth as an independent additional variable.

I wondered could this potential problem be resolved by converting depth into a dimension in the netcdf files? I'm uncertain though of whether this will work as the values will be different in every grid point, and therefore I'd like advice on whether this is a wise or practical thing to do.

Many thanks

Sean Gaffney

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