Version 1 (modified by markh, 6 years ago) (diff)


Variables as Containers

This summaries one of the options under discussion in #79.

Vector Proposal

A new variable type is introduced to CF NetCDF: the Container Variable.

An container variable may have attributes but it must not have data associated with it and it must not be defined with respect to any NetCDF dimensions.

A new attribute:


is introduced, to be used only with container variables. This will be a new controlled vocabulary for CF.

A specific type of container variable is defined for the purpose of defining vector quantities.

    container_type = "spatial_vector"

The spatial_vector container variable defines an attribute for the name of the vector quantity:


a set of attributes for the definition of components:


Each of these attributes points to one and only one data variable within the dataset. All referenced components are CF data variables which exist in the dataset.

Components must be defined on the same domain as each other (all coord definitions must be the same), but the sampling regimes may be different.

This is to exclude, for instance, one component variable having time-latitude-longitude and another time-altitude-latitude-longitude as coordinate variables, but it does permit components to be on an Arakawa C-grid.


int ice_drift_vector;
 drift_vector:container_type = "spatial_vector" ;
 drift_vector:vector_name = "sea_ice_displacement_vector" ;
 drift_vector:long_name = "sea ice drift vector" ;
 drift_vector:i_component = "dX" ;
 drift_vector:j_component = "dY" ;
 drift_vector:i_j_direction = "dir" ;