# Converting NEODAAS Mercator Projection netCDF files to GeoTiffs for use in QGIS / ArcMap

NetCDF files are a common format for distributing Earth Observation data and allow the ability to store a number of variables alongside metadata. However, using netCDF files in a GIS is not always as easy as it could be.

The NERC Earth Observation Data Acquisition and Analysis Service (NEODAAS) routinely produce products such as Chlorophyll from EO data and store as netCDF files. For the UK they use a Mercator projection within a netCDF file storing the latitude and longitude of each pixel within separate arrays. Unfortunately QGIS and ArcMap are often unable to read this information so don’t read data into the correct location making it difficult to use with other datasets.

To read data into the correct location I wrote a script which converts the latitude and longitude values in the netCDF file into tie points and then uses these to warp a GeoTiff into the correct location. It exports a single variable at a time.

To use for creating a GeoTiff from Chlorophyll data:

python reproject_neodaas_netcdf.py \
sentinel3a_olci_all_products_L3 median_uk_7d_20180720_20180726.nc \
sentinel3a_olci_all_products_L3-median_uk_7d_20180720_20180726_chl.tif \
--variable CHL_OC4ME


The script is below. It requires the GDAL and netCDF Python libraries.

Note although the files should line up with other datasets you are warping the data which may introduce some errors. For best results, if you have a research project funded by NERC or are eligible for a NERC research grant or training award you can contact NEODAAS to discuss specific processing requirements.

# Introduction to RSGISLib Training Course

A course introducing RSGISLib was recently given in Japan by Pete Bunting. Material from the course is available to download from the following links:

The course covers pre-processing of PALSAR SAR data followed by a demonstration of pixel-based and object-based classification. All the required data and scripts are included in the package.

# Convert LaTeX to Word

A big problem with writing in LaTeX is collaborating with colleagues who don’t use it. One option is to generate a Word .docx version and use the comments and track changes features in Word / LibreOffice. This does require manually copying the changes back to LaTeX so isn’t quite as nice as using latexdiff (see earlier post) but is slightly easier than adding comments to a PDF.

The best program I’ve found for converting LaTeX to Word is the open source (GPL) command line tool, pandoc (http://pandoc.org/).

Basic usage is quite straightforward:

pandoc latex_document.tex -o latex_document_word_version.docx


The conversion isn’t perfect, figures and tables can get a bit mangled, but it does a good job with the text.

Pandoc can convert between many different formats, including from markdown and reStructuredText (commonly used for software documentation) so it is worth having installed.

# Create a CSV with the coordinates from geotagged photos

Recently I took a lot of photos on my phone during fieldwork (survey for the NERC-ARF LiDAR and hyperspectral calibration flights) and wanted to extract the GPS coordinates from each photo so I could load them into QGIS using the add delimited text dialogue. The aim wasn’t to have precise locations for each photo (GPS positions for each of the points surveyed were recorded separately) but to give a quick idea of the locations we’d visited before the main GPS data were processed.

I while ago (2012!) I wrote a script for this task. The script (CreateJPEGKMZ) requires pillow and the imagemagick command line tools.

It code isn’t particularly tidy (despite my recent updates) but it basically pulls out the GPS location from the EXIF tags and writes this to a CSV file. To create a KMZ a thumbnail image is created and a corresponding KML file. Both the thumbnail and KML are then zipped together to generate the KMZ which can be opened in GoogleEarth.

To use the script to write a CSV file:

CreateJPEGKMZ.py --outcsv gps_points.csv input_jpeg_files


To also create KMZ files for each photo:

CreateJPEGKMZ.py --outcsv gps_points.csv \
--outkmz output_kmz_files
input_jpeg_files


This was also a good lesson in the benefits of having scripts in version control and publicly available.

# Convert EASE-2 grid cell to latitude and longitude using Python

The EASE-2 grid is used for a number of NASA datasets including SMAP. It is described in the following paper:

Brodzik, M. J., Billingsley, B., Haran, T., Raup, B., & Savoie, M. H. (2012). EASE-Grid 2.0: Incremental but Significant Improvements for Earth-Gridded Data Sets. ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information, 1(3), 32–45. http://doi.org/10.3390/ijgi1010032

Files with the centre coordinate of each cell for EASE-2 grids at different resolutions are available from https://nsidc.org/data/ease/tools.html as well as tools for conversion.

To read these files into Python the following steps can be used:

For this example I’ve chosen the 36km cylindrical EASE-2 grid (gridloc.EASE2_M36km.tgz)

2. Un-tar using:
tar -xvf gridloc.EASE2_M36km.tgz

3. Read the files into Python:
import numpy

# Read binary files and reshape to correct size
# The number of rows and columns are in the file name
lats = numpy.fromfile('EASE2_M36km.lats.964x406x1.double',
dtype=numpy.float64).reshape((406,964))
lons = numpy.fromfile('EASE2_M36km.lons.964x406x1.double',
dtype=numpy.float64).reshape((406,964))

# Extract latitude and longitude
# for a given row and column
grid_row = 46
grid_column = 470

lat_val = lats[grid_row, grid_column]
lon_val = lons[grid_row, grid_column]


# Add an ENVI header to JAXA Global Mangrove Watch PALSAR tiles

This is an update to a script I wrote a while ago for working with PALSAR tiles from JAXA’s Global Mangrove Watch.

Untar files
Using GNU parallel [1] you can untar a directory of files at once:

ls *tar.gz | parallel -j 2 tar -xf


Which will untar two files at a time (depending on how fast your disk is you may wish to set more running at once).

It is run using:

python add_gmw_palsar_header.py KC_*


This will add a header for all files in each directory matching ‘KC*’

Create mosaic using RSGISLib

Using the ‘rsgislibmosaic.py’ utilities from RSGISLib, a mosaic can be created for each dataset using:

rsgislibmosaic.py -i . -s '*HH' -o palsar_hh.kea -ot UInt16
rsgislibmosaic.py -i . -s '*HV' -o palsar_hv.kea -ot UInt16
rsgislibmosaic.py -i . -s '*_linci' -o palsar_linci.kea -ot Byte
rsgislibmosaic.py -i . -s '*_date' -o palsar_date.kea -ot UInt16


A similar procedure should work for other datasets by modifying the Python script used to produce the ENVI header files.

[1] O. Tange (2011): GNU Parallel – The Command-Line Power Tool, ;login: The USENIX Magazine, February 2011:42-47.

# Tracking changes in a LaTeX document

One of the problems people often have with using LaTeX for collaborative writing is that it is difficult to track changes in a document, like in Word.

As .tex files are text documents version control such as Git or Mercurial can be used to keep track of changes in the LaTeX source. However, looking at differences in .tex files is not as easy as having a formatted copy of the document with the changes marked, in particular for people not used to LaTeX.

The latexdiff command can be used to create a LaTeX document with the changes marked, from which a PDF can be created showing where the text has changed. For example:

Basic usage is:

latexdiff origionaldoc.tex changeddoc.tex > changes.tex


By default the command will print everything to the terminal so the output needs to be redirected (using >) to a file.

When writing papers we commonly have a shell script to generate a change tex file, create a PDF and remove temp files.

# Create diff file
latexdiff --exclude-textcmd "section,subsection,sub subsection" \
201403_GOBIA_RSGISLib_RIOS_origional.tex \
201403_GOBIA_RSGISLib_RIOS.tex > \
201403_GOBIA_RSGISLib_RIOS_changes_temp.tex

# Create PDF
pdflatex 201403_GOBIA_RSGISLib_RIOS_changes_temp.tex
bibtex 201403_GOBIA_RSGISLib_RIOS_changes_temp
pdflatex 201403_GOBIA_RSGISLib_RIOS_changes_temp.tex
pdflatex 201403_GOBIA_RSGISLib_RIOS_changes_temp.tex

# Rename PDF and move extra files.
mv 201403_GOBIA_RSGISLib_RIOS_changes_temp.pdf 201403_GOBIA_RSGISLib_RIOS_changes.pdf
rm 201403_GOBIA_RSGISLib_RIOS_changes_temp.*


Note sometimes changes for particular tex commands can cause problems when creating a PDF, producing an error along these lines:

! Argument of \UL@word has an extra }.
<inserted text>
\par