Open tools for the analysis and visualisation of Earth science data

SciTools is a collaborative effort to produce powerful Python-based open-source tools for Earth scientists. Initially started at the Met Office in 2010, SciTools has grown into a diverse community of partners and collaborators from around the world. SciTools is responsible for the maintenance of a number of key packages such as Iris and Cartopy, and continues to develop new and innovative tools for the Earth scientist's toolkit.



The Iris package implements a data model to create a data abstraction layer which isolates analysis and visualisation code from data format specifics. The data model we have chosen is the CF Data Model. The implementation of this model we have called an Iris Cube.

Iris currently supports read/write access to a range of data formats, including (CF-)netCDF, GRIB, and PP; fundamental data manipulation operations, such as arithmetic, interpolation, and statistics; and a range of integrated plotting options.

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Cartopy is a Python package designed for geospatial data processing in order to produce maps and other geospatial data analyses.

Key features of cartopy are its object oriented projection definitions, and its ability to transform points, lines, vectors, polygons and images between those projections.

You will find cartopy especially useful for large area / small scale data, where Cartesian assumptions of spherical data traditionally break down.

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Additional Tools and Resources

There are a number of other packages and resources developed under the SciTools organisation on GitHub. Some of the more prominent ones are listed below.

  • cf-units - is a wrapper class to support Unidata/UCAR UDUNITS-2, and the netcdftime calendar functionality. Provides units of measure. Learn more...
  • iris-grib - provides functionality for converting between weather and climate datasets that are stored as GRIB files and Iris cubes. Learn more...
  • nc-time-axis - provides support for non-gregorian datetimes in matplotlib Learn more...
  • scitools/courses - several courses for the benefit of scientific researchers, particularly in the fields of oceanography and meteorology. Learn more...