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Data Formats and Sources

McIDAS-V can read a variety of data formats either from local files or remote data servers (e.g., HTTP, TDS, ADDE). This page contains information about some data sources that work with McIDAS-V.

To connect McIDAS-V to data sources, see Data Sources.

Supported Data Types and Formats
Data Type Description Supported Formats Access Method
Gridded Numerical weather prediction models, climate analysis, gridded oceanographic datasets, NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis - netCDF - local files, HTTP, TDS servers
- GRIB (versions 1&2) - local files, TDS servers
- Vis5D - local files, HTTP
- GEMPAK - local files, TDS servers
Satellite Imagery Geostationary and polar orbiter satellite imagery, derived satellite products - ADDE - ADDE servers
- McIDAS AREA - local files, local & remote ADDE servers
- AIRS - local files
- GINI - local files, TDS servers
- AMSR-E Level 1b - local ADDE
- AMSR-E Level 2a - local ADDE
- AMSR-E Rain Product - local ADDE
- EUMETCast LRIT - local ADDE
- Meteosat OpenMTP - local ADDE
- Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) Level 1b - local ADDE
- Metop AVHRR Level 1b - local ADDE
- MODIS L1b MOD02 (MODIS Level 1b) - local ADDE
- MODIS L2 MOD04 (Level 2 Aerosol) - local ADDE
- MODIS L2 MOD06 (Level 2 Cloud Top Properties) - local ADDE
- MODIS L2 MOD07 (Level 2 Atmospheric Profile) - local ADDE
- MODIS L2 MOD28 (Level 2 Sea Surface Temperature Products) - local ADDE
- MODIS L2 MOD35 (Level 2 Cloud Mask) - local ADDE
- MODIS L2 MODR (Level 2 Corrected Reflectance) - local ADDE
- MSG HRIT FD and HRV - local ADDE
- NOAA AVHRR Level 1b - local ADDE
- SSMI (TeraScan netCDF) - local ADDE
- TRMM (TeraScan netCDF) - local ADDE
- Himawari-8 (*.DAT) * - local ADDE
- INSAT-3D Imager * - local ADDE
- INSAT-3D Sounder * - local ADDE
- GOES-16 ABI (Level 1b) * - local ADDE
Radar Radar images - Level II - local files or TDS
(bzip2 compressed or uncompressed)
- Level III - ADDE servers, local files or TDS
- Universal Format (UF) - local files
- DORADE - local files
Point Observational Surface observations (METAR and SYNOP), earthquake observations - ADDE - ADDE servers
- netCDF (Unidata, AWIPS/MADIS formats) - local files
- Text (ASCII, CSV), Excel spreadsheet - local files
Aircraft observations - netCDF (RAF convention) - local files
- Text (ASCII, CSV) - local files
Global balloon soundings - ADDE - ADDE servers
- netCDF (Unidata, AWIPS/MADIS formats) - local files
- CMA text format - local files
- GEMPAK - local files
GIS Data typically used in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) - ESRI Shapefile - local files, HTTP
- USGS DEM - local files
QuickTime QuickTime movies (without extensions) - QuickTime - local files, HTTP

* The Himawari-8, INSAT-3D, and ABI local servers are currently supported on Linux and OS X platforms

Remote Data Servers

Extensive meteorological and oceanographic data is available from remote data servers for use in research and education. Some of these data have restrictions on their use, see Using Data Acquired via Unidata for that information.

Abstract Data Distribution Environment (ADDE)

Most of the data choosers in McIDAS-V use ADDE as the access method (satellite imagery, Level III radar, surface, and RAOB). The ADDE choosers are pre-configured with a list of available servers. SSEC and the Unidata community each maintain a set of cooperating ADDE servers which serve up real-time and archived atmospheric datasets for use in McIDAS-V. You can use any of these to access the near-realtime data. For more information on accessing data on ADDE servers, see the Data Sources section.

SSEC image datasets include:

Additional datasets:

You can configure defaults for particular images by creating a custom defaults file. For more information, see Configuring Image Defaults.

*Additional alternate servers include: adde.ucar.edu, stratus.al.noaa.gov, and atm.ucar.edu. These alternate servers have most or all of the datasets listed under adde.ssec.wisc.edu.


McIDAS-V can access gridded data (netCDF/GRIB/GEMPAK) and NEXRAD radar data stored on a THREDDS Data Server (TDS) through the OPeNDAP (formerly called DODS) protocol. See Choosing Cataloged Data for more information.


Many of the data sources listed in the table above can read files directly from web servers (e.g. Apache) through the HTTP protocol. In most cases, the server must support the HTTP 1.1 protocol and be configured to set the "Content-Length" and "Accept-Ranges: bytes" headers. See the Choosing a URL for more information.

netCDF files

The Network Common Data Form (netCDF) provides a common data access method for Unidata applications. This format can be used to store a variety of data types that encompass single-point observations, time series, regular grids, and satellite and radar images. The mere use of netCDF by itself is not sufficient to make data "self-describing" and meaningful to McIDAS-V.

Generally, McIDAS-V requires that datasets in netCDF format use metadata conventions to be able to fully understand and geolocate the dataset. These conventions provide documented "best practices". Using conventions with netCDF ensures your data is complete and self-describing, and can be used by others. We recommend you use CF, COARDS, or NUWG conventions for netCDF data files for McIDAS-V, and be sure to follow the best practices noted above.

ASCII Text Point Data

McIDAS-V can read point data and trajectories (aircraft tracks) from comma-separated value (CSV) text files. See the documentation on the Text (ASCII) Point Data Format.


There are a couple of data formats that can be of a variety of data types (e.g. Satellite, point) that can be loaded through the local files chooser.

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