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Ticket Resolution Summary Owner Reporter
#5 fixed Forward old website to new website halliday1 halliday1
  • Forward requests to the old CF website to the new CF website, using a "301 Moved Permanently" HTTP status code.
#8 fixed Identifying horizontal coordinate variables using the axis attribute cf-conventions@… jonathan

1. Title

Identifying horizontal coordinate variables using the axis attribute

2. Moderator

Russ Rew

3. Requirement

A method is needed to identify which are the horizontal coordinate axes of a data variable

4. Initial Statement of Technical Proposal

The axis attribute of coordinate variables (1D, in the Unidata sense) is optional. The value axis="X" can be used on a longitude coordinate variable (CF 4.2), and axis="Y" on a latitude coordinate variable (CF 4.1) (case-insensitive). CF is ambiguous about its use on other coordinate variables. The introduction of CF 4 states that the axis attribute is recommended for other kinds of spatial coordinate, but without giving an interpretation to its values. However in CF 4.1 and 4.2 it is prohibited for coordinate variables of rotated latitude and longitude. This proposal aims to clarify the use of the axis attribute for horizontal coordinate variables.

The proposal is

  • to modify the sentence "We attach no specific meaning ..." in the introduction to CF 4 with: "The values X and Y for the axis attribute should be used to identify horizontal coordinate variables. If both X- and Y-axis are identified, X-Y-up should define a right-handed coordinate system i.e. rotation from the positive X direction to the positive Y direction is anticlockwise if viewed from above."
  • to delete the prohibition on the axis attribute for rotated latitude in CF 4.1, and rotated longitude in CF 4.2.
  • to append the following to the paragraph beginning "The use of coordinate variables" in the introduction to CF 5: "The axis attribute is not allowed for auxiliary coordinate variables. Auxiliary coordinate variables which lie on the horizontal surface can be identified as such by their dimensions being horizontal, which can in turn be inferred from their having an axis attribute of X or Y, or from their units in the case of latitude and longitude (see section 4)."
  • to append the following to the paragraph beginning "If the coordinate variables" in the introduction to CF 5: "The use of the axis attribute with values X and Y is recommended for the coordinate variables (see section 4)."

5. Benefits

The axis attribute, thus redefined, provides a clear way to identify horizontal coordinate variables and horizontal auxiliary coordinate variables.

As an example, we can modify the one in CF 5.2:

  xc = 128 ;
  yc = 64 ;
  lev = 18 ;
  float T(lev,yc,xc) ;
    T:long_name = "temperature" ;
    T:units = "K" ;
    T:coordinates = "lon lat" ;
  float xc(xc) ;
    xc:long_name = "x-coordinate in Cartesian system" ;
    xc:units = "m" ;
  float yc(yc) ;
    yc:long_name = "y-coordinate in Cartesian system" ;
    yc:units = "m" ;
  float lev(lev) ;
    lev:long_name = "pressure level" ;
    lev:units = "hPa" ;
  float lon(yc,xc) ;
    lon:long_name = "longitude" ;
    lon:units = "degrees_east" ;
  float lat(yc,xc) ;
    lat:long_name = "latitude" ;
    lat:units = "degrees_north" ;

The axis attributes identify xc and yc as horizontal dimensions, and indicate that xc-yc-up is right-handed. Because xc and yc are the dimensions of lon and lat, these auxiliary coordinate variables are also implied to be horizontal. In this case, we can also deduce that from the fact that they are identifiable as longitude and latitude, but for a general 2D coordinate variable it might not be obvious.

There is no backward incompatibility because the redefinition permits the axis attribute in cases where it was formerly not allowed, but does not change its meaning in existing cases.

6. Status Quo

With the CF standard as it is, latitude and longitude coordinate variables can be identified by their units or standard_name, and they are well known to be horizontal. Other horizontal coordinate variables can be identified only by recognising specific standard_names e.g. those in Appendix F on map projections. The axis attribute is a more general solution that works without any knowledge of the possible choices of horizontal grid.

#12 fixed Formula terms for ocean_sigma_coordinate are incorrect kyle rsignell

The format for the "ocean_sigma_coordinate" formula_terms attribute should be

formula_terms = "sigma: var1 eta: var2 depth: var3"

I checked the CF-conventions 1.0 doc from 2004 and it's correct there, but even version 1.0 of the docbook

has it wrong, repeating instead the "ocean_s_coordinate" formula_terms.

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