NCL Tutorial - Joint WRF and MPAS Users' Workshop

This is a web page for attendees of the NCL Tutorial at the Joint WRF and MPAS Users' Workshop, June 15, 2018 at 8:30 AM.

We will use this page to provide you with sample NCL scripts that you can download during the tutorial, if you want to follow the demos. We will also provide some useful links.

Official description of tutorial

This tutorial introduces the use of NCL to visualize WRF-ARW and MPAS data. The tutorial will include demonstrations of creating contour and vector plots of WRF-ARW data, creating filled contours of data on MPAS meshes, and further customizing NCL graphics by adding shapefile outlines, titles, and other annotations. If time permits, the tutorial will briefly cover regridding WRF-ARW and MPAS data, using shapefiles to select areas of interest, and creating animations.

Sample data files

We recommend that you come to the tutorial ready to use your own WRF-ARW output and/or MPAS NetCDF files.

Sample WRF output file

Go to:

Click on the link (provided below) that appears in this text:

January 2000 wrf output data: Model output at 24 hour forecast time from above IC/BC
This should download a compressed file called "wrfout_jan00.tar.gz". You can use the "tar" command to extract the file:

tar -zxf wrfout_jan00.tar.gz

This should extract a file called "wrfout_d01_2000-01-24_12:00:00". You can remove the "wrfout_jan00.tar.gz" file.

Sample MPAS output file

Go to:

and download the "" file. It is 121 megabytes.

Downloading and installing NCL

We will be using NCL Version 6.4.0 for the tutorial.

Please come to the tutorial with NCL already installed, especially if you want to try some of the scripts during the tutorial. If you wait until the day of the tutorial, we likely will not have time to help you with installation issues.

To determine if you already have NCL and what version you have, type the following from the UNIX command line:

  ncl -V

If you don't have NCL already installed, then you have different choices for installation depending on what kind of system you have:

Installing NCL

Mac Install NCL via "conda"
Install NCL via the Earth System Grid
Linux Install NCL via "conda"
Install NCL via the Earth System Grid
Windows 10 Install NCL under the Windows 10 Subsystem for Linux
Install NCL via the Earth System Grid
Older versions of Windows Install NCL under Cygwin/X (32-bit only)

Useful links

Where to get help

If you have problems installing NCL, subscribe to the ncl-install email list and post your question there.

If you have questions about the tutorial, email Mary Haley (