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Introduction to Climate Data Analysis


About This Course

This online workshop will outline how to access and process gridded climate data, focussing primarily on the use of the Copnernicus Climate Change Service Climate Data Store. The course will take the form of a series of pre-recorded, video-based lectures, each one focussed on a specific topic outlined below, with related exercises. The course assessment will consist of several larger assignments analysing climate trends and involving the postprocessing of climate data using climate data operator functions. Once a week, the lecturer will be available for an interactive tutorial sessions to help with issues related to the course.

In this initial release of this course the focus is on basic analysis techniques of reanalysis and climate data, the extension to sub-seasonal and seasonal prediction will be contained in part 2 under construction

Topics in part 1:

  • Accessing state-of-the-art reanalysis climate data from the Copernicus Climate Data store
  • Extracting data for specific areas and locations
  • Calculating spatial and temporal statistics and anomalies
  • Calculating derived variables and indices for extreme weather and heatwaves
  • Regridding, interpolation and making a statistical lapse rate temperature downscaler
  • Making your own ENSO and Indian-Ocean Dipole indices
  • Calculating the impact of ENSO on weather in your region of interest


No prior programming knowledge is required for this course. The course is aimed at a basic level and is constructed using simple command lines tools (mostly CDO) that do not require the coding knowledge. The course also provided background information on the climate data store and the netcdf data format.

Course Author

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Adrian Tompkins (ICTP)

I am a research scientist in the Earth System Physics section of ICTP.

My research interests focus on cloud and convection dynamics and physics, and their representation in weather forecast and climate models, and how the organisation of convection in the tropics may impact climate sensitivity. More recently, my research has branched into climate applications of particular relevance to Africa, mostly in the area of health. I am the lead developer of a widely used, open-source, regional dynamical malaria transmission model that accounts for climate and population and also a less well used agent-based model for cyclic human mobility.

Regarding the mandate of ICTP, I am particularly concerned with how weather prediction and climate models can be better applied in developing countries. I have taught at over 35 schools, workshops and training events in Africa, Asia and C/S America in the past 13 years, being the main director/organiser of over 25 of these events in over 12 African countries. In recent years, these have also focussed on training of the use of open-access tools and datasets, particularly those available within the Copernicus climate services framework, hosted and operated by my previous employer ECMWF where I was privileged to work for 7 years.

Running these training courses I often find there is a huge range of experience in the room, from expert data manipulators, to students and scientists just starting out and with little idea of pratical data sources and the tools to handle large, gridded climate and weather datasets. I therefore started my youtube channel in 2020 and subsequently designed and wrote this MOOC open learning course to embed this material to try and help instruct new comers to climate and weather analysis in the use of simple and efficient tools to achieve a reasonable proficiency. I hope you enjoy following my course which will evolve in time as I add new modules, and I would be very happy to receive feedback on your learning experience, reports of bugs, or suggestions for new topics.

Expert Lecturers

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Angela Bennedetti (ECMWF)

Angela is a senior scientist and leader of the Infrared Observations Team of the Earth System Assimilation Section (Research Department). She was the main architect of the aerosol analysis that is now operational at ECMWF as part of the Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service (CAMS) and she continues to pioneer the assimilation of new observations, such as satellite and ground-based lidar profiles of aerosol backscatter. Her most recent research focuses on the radiative impact of atmospheric aerosols on weather at the monthly and seasonal scales.

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Carlo Buontempo (ECMWF)

Carlo is the director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) at ECMWF. He coordinates the activities of a number of international contracts working on the interface between climate science and decision making in sectors ranging from energy to city planning.

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Tony McNally (ECMWF)

Tony is head of Earth System Assimilation at ECMWF and has primary responsibility for leading activities related to the exploitation of infrared satellite observations. He is also responsible for coordinating ECMWF collaboration with EUMETSAT and satellite assimilation training. His professional interests include the exploitation of satellite-based radiation measurements of the atmosphere to support research and operational activities in Numerical Weather Prediction, Climate Reanalyses and Atmospheric Composition.

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Simona Bordoni (University of Trento)

Simona is a Full Professor at University of Trento. Simona's research interests are in atmospheric dynamics, with a special emphasis on understanding the coupling between larger-scale circulations and the hydrological cycle. She is particularly interested in tropical circulations, such as Hadley and monsoonal circulations, because of their intimate coupling with moist convection and rainfall, and the variety of scales they embody. She makes use of observations and models of different complexity, and emphasize theoretically-based approaches that allow for conceptual undestanding.

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Fred Kucharski (ICTP)

Fred is a senior scientist at ICTP, and expert in ENSO. He is interested in understanding the variability of the climate of the 20th century and to investigate its potential predictability. The focus is on interannual to decadal time scales. A particular emphasis is given to the investigation of atmospheric and oceanic teleconnection pattern and on the separation of forced and internal variability of the climate system.

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Adnan Abid (ICTP)

Adnan is an ICTP Diploma Programme alumnus from Pakistan, a graduate of the first class of Diploma students in Earth System Physics. He returned to ICTP to work with Fred Kucharski on climate teleconnections, starting with a famous climate pattern: the El Niño–Southern Oscillation, or ENSO and the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) on which he will be lecturing in this course.

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Emanuel Dutra (IPMA)

Emanuel is a researcher Instituto Português do Mar e Atmosfera (IPMA). His main research focus on land surface processes and the importance of the land surface within earth system models and meteorological forecasting systems. In particular he is interested in modelling of land surface processes, large scale hydrology, land surface drivers on sub-seasonal to seasonal atmospheric predictability, drought monitoring and forecasting and the role of the land surface in climate projections.

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Vikki Thompson (KNMI)

Vikki is a climate scientist at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) with a research focuses on climate extremes such as heavy rainfall events and heatwaves. She uses observational data and large ensembles of climate models to analyse climatic extremes in both the current climate and future climate projections. As well as analysing the dynamics associated with extremes to better understand how they may change in future, she is also interested in their impacts on society and the environment.

Wiki pages and zoom sessions and

The course contains a WIKI page which can be used to invite colleagues to collaborate or post questions about the course. We have also set up a zoom facility for Fridays, which is published in the WIKI. This can be used for collaboration and discussion. In addition there is a space to also provide a 24/7 online space to interact with each other for up to 10 people at a time. Please see the course WIKI for further details.

Frequently Asked Questions

What web browser should I use?

The Open edX platform works best with current versions of Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Safari.

See our list of supported browsers for the most up-to-date information.

Will subseasonal or seasonal forecast be covered?

Not in part 1 of the course, but this will be the focus in a part 2 of the course under construction.