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The Toolbox for ESA Climate Data Analysis

As part of the ESA Climate Change Initiative (CCI), a toolbox has been released for the easy access, visualisation, analysis and processing of ESA climate data. The CCI Toolbox v1.0, which we call Cate, also facilitates the melding together of different climate indicators.

Where does the data come from?

The CCI programme produces the most complete and consistent possible time series of multi-sensor global satellite data products for climate research and modelling. It does this by making full use of the long-term global Earth Observation archives that ESA, together with its member states, have established over the last 40 years, as a contribution to the climate databases required by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The CCI brings together European expertise in Earth Observation with that from the climate research community to address Essential Climate Variables (ECV) that can be generated using satellite observations. The CCI programme has developed data records on 13 ECVs and will start the production of an additional 9 in 2018.

The resulting data products are stored in and made available from the CCI Open Data Portal ( and the CCI Toolbox makes these directly accessible through its interfaces for visualisation, analysis and processing.

“CCI Toolbox – My first choice for a quick start with the CCI data sets” Rainer Hollmann, Champion Users Lead

Is it free?

Entirely free – both data and CCI Toolbox. The toolbox is also Open Source under the MIT License.

Are the toolbox features relevant to the Climate Community?

The CCI Toolbox has been developed and advanced by a specialised team who use an interactive method of working together to adjust Cate’s capabilities to user needs. The Cate team is composed of both professional software scientists and climate users, or “Champion Users” as we call them. This means that the climate users are driving the software development. An Agile development process has been adopted by users and developers, with 3-monthly releases, which allow users to define features to be implemented and to try out, and test, the successful implementation. This incremental approach with short iteration cycles ensures the toolbox is fit-for-purpose, and that we can react to new emerging needs.

“I am used to working with many different users; scientists, managers and students. My ambition is to make Cate the tool of choice when a scientifically sound, and technical reliable analysis software is needed by these users. We have chosen the most popular scientific programming language Python. We have also allowed all the operations to be critically reviewed by champion users as peers. As a result Cate offers a modern, intuitive graphical user interface to achieve this goal.” Carsten Brockmann, Science Lead CCI Carsten Brockmann

How do we decide what goes in releases?

We use climate change ‘use cases’ that are defined by our Champion Users: 22 use cases have been compiled. They cover a wide range of applications from high level scenarios, through to scientific questions, for instance “Renewable Energy Resource Assessment Regarding Topography”, to education in “School Seminar Climate and Weather”. All the use cases can be found at We’re always happy to hear new use cases for the CCI Toolbox, so do feel free to get in touch.

“ I hope all our users will have as much fun as the team has in developing it” Norman Fomferra, Technical Lead

How does the CCI Toolbox actually work?

The CCI Toolbox, Cate, is a Python package which provides a command-line interface (CLI), an application programming interface (API), and an intuitive graphical user interface (GUI). Cate implements climate data visualisation and processing, and provides a suite of analysis functions. It defines a common climate data model spanning all climate variables and provides a common framework to register, lookup and invoke operations and workflows on data represented in the common data model.

Who is it built by?

The CCI Toolbox project partners comprise Brockmann Consult GmbH (Lead Partner), Telespazio VEGA UK, Science [&] Technology Corporation (S[&]T), Deutscher Wetterdienst (DWD), University of Reading, University of Zurich, and is supported by ESA.

More information

Download and find out more about the CCI Toolbox at or contact Ed Pechorro (