MATLAB Answers

Time format in netcdf files

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mahmoud zemzami
mahmoud zemzami on 27 Jun 2020
Answered: mahmoud zemzami on 29 Jun 2020
Hi,
II want to extract time series from a netcdf file but the time format is like this:
datetime_start = 2006-01-16T12:00:00Z
datetime_stop = 2100-12-16T12:00:00Z
ncid = netcdf.open('pr_Amon_inmcm4_rcp85_r1i1p1_200601-210012.nc','NC_NOWRITE');
filename = ncinfo('pr_Amon_inmcm4_rcp85_r1i1p1_200601-210012.nc');
disp(filename);
ncdisp('pr_Amon_inmcm4_rcp85_r1i1p1_200601-210012.nc');
% 2. EXTRACT VARIABLES
longitude = ncread('pr_Amon_BNU-ESM_rcp85_r1i1p1_200601-210012.nc','lon');%
latitude = ncread('pr_Amon_BNU-ESM_rcp85_r1i1p1_200601-210012.nc','lat');%
time = ncread('pr_Amon_BNU-ESM_rcp85_r1i1p1_200601-210012.nc','time');% the time is in months
So how can I extract time series from this file from 2020-01-01 to 2050-01-12

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dpb
dpb on 28 Jun 2020
Would help to have a (small) sample file if want folks to try something...I've never used netcdf so "know nuthink!" about it. Looks like a standard time format, though.
What's the problem?
Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 28 Jun 2020
I have never seen a netcdf file that represented time in anything like 2006-01-16T12:00:00Z .
The netcdf files I have seen represent time in terms of elapsed fixed-length units since a particular date. For example "days" where "day" has been defined as 24*60*60 seconds (so ignoring leap seconds and ignoring timezones.) The only time I have seen "months" as the units was when an integral number of months was used, in which case you could never narrow in as finely as a particular time of a particular day of the month.
It is not uncommon in netcdf to use time units of convenience that do not correspond to real practices -- for example using months as is they were exactly 30 days each, or using fixed 365 day years as if leap years do not exist.

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Answers (2)

per isakson
per isakson on 28 Jun 2020
Edited: per isakson on 28 Jun 2020
"I want to extract time series from a netcdf file but the time format is like this: " Why "but", that's the way date-time is stored in this particular nc-file. You need to convert the text of the nc-file to a suitable Matlab data type, e.g. datetime
>> dt = datetime( '2100-12-16T12:00:00Z' ...
, 'InputFormat','yyyy-MM-dd''T''HH:mm:ssXXX' ...
, 'TimeZone','UTC' )
dt =
datetime
16-Dec-2100 12:00:00
"So how can I extract time series from this file from 2020-01-01 to 2050-01-12" You cannot use these dates as input arguments to the function, ncread(). There are two alternatives
  • read the entire time series as you show in your question, convert the values of your variable, time, to a datetime variable, and finally delete the parts of the series that you don't need.
  • You know beforehand which "rows" you want to read and use the input arguments, start and count of ncread()

  2 Comments

mahmoud zemzami
mahmoud zemzami on 29 Jun 2020
Hi,
Thank you for your answer.
Here you find a link to the netcdf file with which I'm trying to work.
As I mentionned previously, I want to extract data from a date (let say since 2020-01-01 to 2030-01-01)
The stroed data are monthly.
Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 29 Jun 2020
Are you expecting that the data in the file goes to December 2100 ? (Note: I do not mean December 2010 !!)
If I read the attributes correctly, the file is using a fixed 365 day year, and the entries in the variable time are days since 1850-1-1 . If you use days(TheTime) + datetime(1850,1,1) then all of the entries come out as nice noon or midnights. But if you start to correct for leap years, then the entries get messy.

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mahmoud zemzami
mahmoud zemzami on 29 Jun 2020
Hi, the data starts since 1850-01-01 and the calendar is with no leap.
My question is very basic. How can I extract time series from for example 1800-01-01 to 1805-01-01.
I used this function but I'dont know how to use time in it.
ncid = netcdf.open('pr_Amon_BNU-ESM_rcp26_r1i1p1_200601-210012.nc','NC_NOWRITE');
filename = ncinfo('pr_Amon_BNU-ESM_rcp26_r1i1p1_200601-210012.nc');
disp(filename);
ncdisp('pr_Amon_BNU-ESM_rcp26_r1i1p1_200601-210012.nc');
% 2. EXTRACT VARIABLES----------------------------------------------
longitude = ncread('pr_Amon_BNU-ESM_rcp26_r1i1p1_200601-210012.nc','lon');
latitude = ncread('pr_Amon_BNU-ESM_rcp26_r1i1p1_200601-210012.nc','lat');
time = ncread('pr_Amon_BNU-ESM_rcp26_r1i1p1_200601-210012.nc','time');
precipitation1 = ncread('pr_Amon_BNU-ESM_rcp26_r1i1p1_200601-210012.nc','pr');
An then I'ma not able to use time in this function:
precipitation3 = ncread('pr_Amon_BNU-ESM_rcp26_r1i1p1_200601-210012','pr',[30 20 45],[10 10 5900],[1 1 1]);

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