Web Coverage Service (WCS) for Climate Data

The OGC WCS for Climate Data offers web-based access to petabytes of climate reanalysis data.

The OGC WCS for Climate Data is developed by ECMWF in the framework of the H2020 EarthServer-2 project and will offer access over 1 PB of global climate reanalysis data retrieved from ECMWF's MARS (Meteorological Archive Retrieval System) archive, the world's largest archive of meteorological data.
The OGC WCS for Climate Data are standard data-access protocols which return data in its raw form. This allows for further web-based data processing and analysis or the building of web applications. It is of great value especially for developers or scientists who build applications and want to have access to large data volumes but do not want to store all the data on their local discs.
With the OGC WCS for Climate Data multi-dimensional gridded data fields can be accessed and processed in an interoperable way. Technical data users, for example, can integrate a WCS request into their processing routine. Commerical companies can easily build customised web-applications with data provided by a WCS.


Available Climate Data

Access to over 1PB of global reanalysis data
The OGC WCS for Climate Data currently gives access to several TBs of meteorological and hydrological data from two projects:
  1. the ERA-interim climate reanalysis project, and
  2. the Global Flood Awareness System (GloFAS)

It is important to mention that the WCS by ECMWF is setup to study and demonstrate the potential of WCS / WCPS web services and is not an operational service offered by ECMWF. It can happen for some periods that the test server will not be accessible or degraded.
The current OGC WCS server for Climate Data is not meant to be integrated into any operational applications.



How to access the WCS?

Explore multiple ways of benefitting from a WCS

If a data provider (e.g. ECMWF) offers on-demand data access and processing with the help of a WC(P)S protocol, the data can be used in multiple ways:

  1. a scientist can integrate efficient data retrieval via WC(P)S directly into her processing routine,
  2. a developer can integrate the WC(P)S query in an interactive web-application with one of the numerous JavaScript libraries, or
  3. a GIS specialist can directly access and open the data within QGIS for further spatial analysis without downloading the data.

The tutorial shows three examples based on NASA WebWorldWind, QGIS and Python how to access, process and retrieve or integrate data requested from a WCS server.



What is WC(P)S?

Web-based retrieval of multi-dimensional geospatial datasets

The Web Coverage Service (WCS) is defined by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) as:

'The OGC WCS supports electronic retrieval of geospatial data as 'coverages' - that is, digital geospatial information representing space/time varying phenomena'.

Therefore, a WCS is a standard data-access protocol that defines and enables the web-based retrieval of mulit-dimensional geospatial datasets. Unlike a Web Mapping Service (WMS), another widely used OGC standard, which returns spatial data as an image, WCS returns data in its raw form, with its original semantics. This allows for further web-based data processing and analysis or the building of web applications.

A Web Coverage Processing Service(WCPS) is an extension supported by the WCS 2.0 core specification and allows crafting queries to be run on the data using a text based query language, similar to SQL.

The Earth Server Initiative

Big Earth Data at your fingertips - this is the vision of EarthServer, an intercontinental initiative for unleashing the potential of Big Data through a disruptive paradigm shift in technology: from isolated silos of data with disparate functionality towards a single, uniform information space; from a difficult, artificial differentiation between data and metadata access to unified retrieval; from zillions of files towards few whatever-size datacubes; from limited functionality to the freedom of asking anything, anytime, any server in a peer network of data centers worldwide.