How to access NOAA@NSIDC data sets in PolarWatch

Currently three NOAA@NSIDC data sets are available in NOAA's PolarWatch Data Catalog. Please note that in the catalog the Climate Data Record (CDR) data sets are split up into Antarctic and Arctic data sets:

We hope to provide more data sets in NetCDF format, which will allow the data to be added to PolarWatch.

Accessing these data sets in PolarWatch offers the following advantages:

  • Download the data in a variety of different file formats, including matlab, PNG and csv.
  • Spatially subset the data by specifying the corner points of a rectangle.
  • Select a custom temporal range, which includes the option to specify the number of time steps within the temporal range.
  • Subset the data based on the parameter(s) you require.
  • There is the option to download the data directly from their ERDDAP data server. You can use their data access form, the following link takes you to the form for the sea ice concentration CDR for the Arctic:
    Alternatively, the following page includes some example python and R scripts for accessing the data:

If you have any questions about PolarWatch, visit the PolarWatch Contact page.


For the CDR data sets, if you wish to concatenate more than one daily file into a single netCDF, the number of days you can fit in one netCDF varies depending on the number of parameters you wish to include:

  • If you want all the parameters, ~1 year is the maximum time period you can include in a single netCDF
  • If you select 2 parameters e.g., seaice_conc_cdr and qa_of_seaice_conc_cdr,  ~7 years seems to be the maximum time period for 1 netCDF
  • Just 1 parameter e.g., seaice_conc_cdr, then 10 years seems to be the maximum time period for 1 netCDF.