CEDA has used NASA-Ames formatted data for many years. NASA-Ames was devised primarily as a format for aircraft observations, but can be adapted for many atmospheric observation data. However, NASA-Ames is complex and confusing for users. Users tend to strip the header off and import the text file into Excel. Model data stored at CEDA often uses the NetCDF format with CF conventions. This provides a format framework with good flexible metadata. The format can be read by a number of analysis programs including FORTRAN, Python, Matlab and IDL. It is however difficult for a researcher with little technical knowledge to use.
To solve these problems a new file format was developed to bring the advantages from the NetCDF file format into a simple text file. The approach was to use metadata conventions on top of comma separated values files (CSV) as produced by applications like Excel.
BADC-CSV has been designed specifically with simple, common data structures in mind often referred to as 1-D data, such as: a collection of surface meteorological data from one or more stations over a period of time; a time series of data from one instrument. For more complex data structures - e.g. variation in both time and height or model output - users should seek to use formats such as NetCDF which allow storage and access to such data much more readily than a csv file.