Articles | Volume 9, issue 9
Geosci. Model Dev., 9, 3093–3110, 2016
Geosci. Model Dev., 9, 3093–3110, 2016

Methods for assessment of models 06 Sep 2016

Methods for assessment of models | 06 Sep 2016

Community Intercomparison Suite (CIS) v1.4.0: a tool for intercomparing models and observations

Duncan Watson-Parris1,2, Nick Schutgens2, Nicholas Cook1, Zak Kipling2, Philip Kershaw3,4, Edward Gryspeerdt5, Bryan Lawrence3,6,7, and Philip Stier2 Duncan Watson-Parris et al.
  • 1Tessella Ltd, Abingdon, Oxford, UK
  • 2Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics, Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  • 3Centre for Environmental Data Analysis, STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Didcot, UK
  • 4National Centre for Earth Observation, Leicester, UK
  • 5Institute for Meteorology, Universität Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
  • 6Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, UK
  • 7National Centre for Atmospheric Science, Leeds, UK

Abstract. The Community Intercomparison Suite (CIS) is an easy-to-use command-line tool which has been developed to allow the straightforward intercomparison of remote sensing, in situ and model data. While there are a number of tools available for working with climate model data, the large diversity of sources (and formats) of remote sensing and in situ measurements necessitated a novel software solution. Developed by a professional software company, CIS supports a large number of gridded and ungridded data sources "out-of-the-box", including climate model output in NetCDF or the UK Met Office pp file format, CloudSat, CALIOP (Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization), MODIS (MODerate resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer), Cloud and Aerosol CCI (Climate Change Initiative) level 2 satellite data and a number of in situ aircraft and ground station data sets. The open-source architecture also supports user-defined plugins to allow many other sources to be easily added. Many of the key operations required when comparing heterogenous data sets are provided by CIS, including subsetting, aggregating, collocating and plotting the data. Output data are written to CF-compliant NetCDF files to ensure interoperability with other tools and systems. The latest documentation, including a user manual and installation instructions, can be found on our website ( Here, we describe the need which this tool fulfils, followed by descriptions of its main functionality (as at version 1.4.0) and plugin architecture which make it unique in the field.

Short summary
In this paper we describe CIS, a new command line tool for the easy visualization, analysis and comparison of a wide variety of gridded and ungridded data sets used in Earth sciences. Users can now use a single tool to not only view plots of satellite, aircraft, station or model data, but also bring them onto the same spatio-temporal sampling. This allows robust, quantitative comparisons to be made easily. CIS is an open-source project and welcomes input from the community.