[R-sig-Geo] NetCDF: Unknown file format?

Michael Sumner mdsumner at gmail.com
Wed Jul 29 14:27:14 CEST 2015

 Essentially this is probably that NetCDF4 (version 4 of the external
library) is required, but that neither ncdf or RNetCDF have been built with
that. The ncdf4 package is the only one that *requires* this, and CRAN
supports NetCDF-3 for Windows via ncdf and RNETCDF and doesn't support
ncdf4 for Windows.

(There are many features in the NetCDF format, and there are many features
not supported by any of these packages whether version 4 or not.)

You can get a build of ncdf4 for Windows here:


but you're on your own in terms of what version of R that will work in, if
at all, etc.

You can  build one of the three packages yourself against NetCDF4 proper,
and that is my preference - it's easiest on Linux, but it's not exactly
"easy" if you are used to windows and the CRAN support for binary packages.

If this is confusing that's just how it is - there are three R packages for
NetCDF, none of them support everything in NetCDF and what works best
depends on what you have available. If you have to do this a lot I
recommend learning to work in Linux.

Cheers, Mike.

On Wed, 29 Jul 2015 at 21:45 Ziyu Ma <paul.ziyu.ma at gmail.com> wrote:

> Dear all,
> I tried to use R to open NetCDF file from the ESA's  soil moisture
> database:
> http://www.esa-soilmoisture-cci.org/node/145
> I have tried to use the R packages "ncdf" or "RNetCDF", but whenever I
> tried to open the file, I have this same error message:
> "Error in R_nc_open: NetCDF: Unknown file format"
> I'm confused since I think both packages where designed to handle this file
> format. Is there some other dependent softwares/packages missing on my
> computer? I'm running Windows 7 64 bit and R 3.2.0 64 bit.
> The soil moisture database recommends the "ncdf4" package, but the Windows
> version of it is no longer available.
> Thank you very much.
> Cheers,
> Ma
> Ziyu Ma
> PhD Student
> Ecoinformatics & Biodiversity,
> Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University
> Ny Munkegade 114, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
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