Converting the Met Office Unified Model output files to NetCDF files

There is a handy utility called Xconv/convsh, which converts Met Office UM output files into different formats. Here's a handy step-by-step for turning .pp files into NetCDF files.


  1. Download Xconv and convsh from here: If using Windows, get both Xconv and convsh. If using Linux, get Xconv and create symbolic link to convsh (ln -s xconv1.91 convsh1.91).
  2. Create text file named conv2nc.tcl and into it copy the code from here: Omit the first line #!/home/jeff/bin/convsh. You may have noticed that this script will convert multiple .pp files into a single NetCDF file. Feel free to adapt my batch file below to do the same, and upload it to the Wiki.
  3. Windows users: follow the instructions here to process files individually: (Xconv). This should also work for Linux users.
  4. Windows users: you can also process multiple .pp files using a batch file. I haven't been able to find an elegant solution in the time I have available, but here's an inelegant one which works (as long as you don't have any spaces in the path to your folder):

Example script

  • Create a text file named run_Xconv.bat.
  • Copy the following script into it:
    @echo off
    rem Batch file to convert Met Office .pp files to NetCDF format
    rem Karen Amoudry, 18 June 2013, National Oceanography Centre, Liverpool
    setlocal EnableDelayedExpansion
    call :treeProcess
    	for %%f in (*.pp) do (
    		set "cmd_str=convsh1.91.exe < conv2nc.tcl -i %%~ff -o !outname!"
    		echo !cmd_str!
    echo ^@echo off
    for /D %%d in (*) do (
    	cd %%d
    	call :treeProcess
    	cd ..
    exit /b
  • Place run_Xconv.bat, convsh1.91.exe and conv2nc.tcl in a parent folder above the .pp files you want to process.
  • Open a command window, navigate to the folder containing the files from step © and type the following: run_Xconv.bat > out.bat
  • When this script finishes, in your command window, type the following: out.bat > log.txt
  • You should now have all your NetCDF files in the same directory as the files from step ©.
  • For extra credit, write a batch file to put the NetCDF files back in the original folder structure and upload it to the Wiki. I couldn't make this work in the time I had available!

Linux users: in principle, you should be able to create a nice shell script to do the same operations as step (4). I haven't, because my files are in Windows. If you produce one, please put it on the Wiki!

The FVCOM toolbox includes a function pp2nc.m which calls convsh to do the conversion of a number of files. It therefore still requires the convsh installation, but it can be included in an existing FVCOM workflow more easily. The function relies on using a convsh script included with the FVCOM toolbox (which is originally taken from here). A simple use case is shown below.

    files = {'/path/to/file1.pp', '/path/to/file2.pp', '/path/to/file3.pp'};
    convsh = '/users/modellers/pica/bin/convsh';
    tcl = '/users/modellers/pica/MATLAB/fvcom-toolbox/utilities/pp2nc.tcl';
    pp2nc(files, convsh, tcl);

N.B. The path to the convsh binary will need to be edited in the pp2nc.tcl script (change the first list to point to your convsh binary).

  • data/conv_pp_files.txt
  • Last modified: 2016/04/13 10:23
  • by root