Summary of MATLAB Network Common Data Form (NetCDF) capabilities


MATLAB® provides both high- and low-level access to NetCDF files:

  • High-level access functions make it easy to read a data set from a NetCDF file or write a variable from the MATLAB workspace into a NetCDF file

  • Low-level access functions provide interfaces to dozens of functions in the NetCDF library

    Note:   For information about MATLAB support for the Common Data Format (CDF), which is a completely separate and incompatible format, see cdflib.

High-Level Access

These functions provide high-level access to NetCDF files.

nccreateCreate variable in NetCDF file
ncinfo Return information about NetCDF data source
ncreadRead data from variable in NetCDF data source
ncreadatt Read attribute value from NetCDF data source
ncwrite Write data to NetCDF file
ncwriteattWrite attribute to NetCDF file
ncwriteschemaAdd NetCDF schema definitions to NetCDF file

Low-Level Access

The MATLAB low-level functions provide an API that you can use to enable reading data from and writing data to NetCDF files (known as data sets in NetCDF terminology). To use these functions, you should be familiar with the information about NetCDF contained in the NetCDF C Interface Guide.

MATLAB supports NetCDF version 4.1.3.

In most cases, the syntax of the MATLAB function matches the syntax of the NetCDF library function. The functions are implemented as a package called netcdf. To use these functions, prefix the function name with package name netcdf. For example, to call the NetCDF library routine used to open existing NetCDF files, use the following MATLAB syntax:

ncid =, mode);

Library Functions

netcdfSummary of MATLAB Network Common Data Form (NetCDF) capabilities
netcdf.getChunkCacheRetrieve chunk cache settings for NetCDF library
netcdf.inqLibVersReturn NetCDF library version information
netcdf.setChunkCacheSet default chunk cache settings for NetCDF library
netcdf.setDefaultFormatChange default netCDF file format

File Operations

netcdf.abortRevert recent netCDF file definitions
netcdf.closeClose netCDF file
netcdf.createCreate new NetCDF dataset
netcdf.endDefEnd netCDF file define mode
netcdf.inqReturn information about netCDF file
netcdf.inqFormatDetermine format of NetCDF file
netcdf.inqGrpsRetrieve array of child group IDs
netcdf.inqUnlimDimsReturn list of unlimited dimensions in group
netcdf.openOpen NetCDF data source
netcdf.reDefPut open netCDF file into define mode
netcdf.setFillSet netCDF fill mode
netcdf.syncSynchronize netCDF file to disk


netcdf.defDimCreate netCDF dimension
netcdf.inqDimReturn netCDF dimension name and length
netcdf.inqDimIDReturn dimension ID
netcdf.renameDimChange name of netCDF dimension


netcdf.defVarCreate NetCDF variable
netcdf.defVarChunkingDefine chunking behavior for NetCDF variable
netcdf.defVarDeflateDefine compression parameters for NetCDF variable
netcdf.defVarFillDefine fill parameters for NetCDF variable
netcdf.defVarFletcher32Define checksum parameters for NetCDF variable
netcdf.getVarReturn data from netCDF variable
netcdf.inqVarInformation about variable
netcdf.inqVarChunkingDetermine chunking settings for NetCDF variable
netcdf.inqVarDeflateDetermine compression settings for NetCDF variable
netcdf.inqVarFillDetermine values of fill parameters for NetCDF variable
netcdf.inqVarFletcher32Fletcher32 checksum setting for NetCDF variable
netcdf.inqVarIDReturn ID associated with variable name
netcdf.putVarWrite data to netCDF variable
netcdf.renameVarChange name of netCDF variable


netcdf.copyAttCopy attribute to new location
netcdf.delAttDelete netCDF attribute
netcdf.getAttReturn netCDF attribute
netcdf.inqAttReturn information about netCDF attribute
netcdf.inqAttIDReturn ID of netCDF attribute
netcdf.inqAttNameReturn name of netCDF attribute
netcdf.putAttWrite netCDF attribute
netcdf.renameAttChange name of attribute


netcdf.getConstantReturn numeric value of named constant
netcdf.getConstantNamesReturn list of constants known to netCDF library
Was this topic helpful?