GRIB Interface for Julia
Author weech
15 Stars
Updated Last
1 Year Ago
Started In
March 2019


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The Gridded Binary (GRIB) format is a format commonly used in meteorology. A GRIB file is a collection of independent records that store 2D data. This package is an interface to the ECMWF ecCodes library. In ecCodes, each GRIB file is composed of a series of messages, and a message is an object with keys and values. Each message has many keys. Some are actually stored in the data, while others are computed by ecCodes on access. Some commonly used keys include:

key value
name long name of the quantity
shortName standard abbreviation of name
latitudes array of latitudes
longitudes array of longitudes
values array of data values
units units of quantity
date date in YYYYmmdd format
typeOfLevel kind of vertical level
level value of vertical level


You can install this package through the normal methods: Pkg.add("GRIB") or ]add GRIB.

This package currently doesn't work on Windows. Any help in getting it to work would be greatly appreciated!


A GribFile functions similarly to a Julia IOStream, except that instead of working as a stream of bytes, GribFile works as a stream of messages. Basic access looks like

GribFile(filename) do f
    # Do things with f

Using the do-block construct guarantees that the resources are released after exiting the do-block. The style

f = GribFile(filename)
# Do things with f

is also valid, but be sure to call destroy when finished with the file.

A GribFile is an iterable, and it defines seek, skip, and seekfirst to aid in navigating the file.


The Message type represents a single GRIB record. It works like a dictionary where the indices are of type String. Creating a Message looks like

GribFile(filename) do f
    # Get the first message from f
    msg = Message(f)

    # Get the second and third messages from f
    msgs = read(f, 2)

    # Work on the rest of the messages in f
    for message in f
        # Do things with message

An important thing to note is that creating a Message moves the position of the GribFile. This means that in order to access a message that has already passed, the seek function must be used to change the position of the GribFile.

The Message type behaves like a dictionary in that data is accessed like value = msg[key]. The most important keys are listed above, and the other keys are discoverable using the keys function. The keys function returns an iterable, but this iterable does not define length, so the best way to get a list of all keys in the message is to do

keylist = Vector{String}()
for key in keys(message)
    push!(keylist, key)

Another important function for the Message type is data. This function returns a tuple of longitudes, latitudes, and values for each point in the message. The following is true

lons, lats, values = data(message)
valuesfromkey = data["values"]
valuesfromkey == values

The eachpoint function returns an iterable that iterates through the points returning a longitude, latitude, and value for each point.

GRIB messages often have missing values. The value that represents missing can be discovered using the missingvalue function. There is also a convenience function maskedvalues that returns the values with the missing values replaced with missing.

Calling print or println on a Message returns the hexidecimal representation of the message, since those functions are meant return a string that can be used to recreate the object. Use display instead for an informative summary of the Message.


The Index type is a way to reduce the size of a file so that only messages with specific key-value pairs are included. A typical use-case looks like this:

Index(filename, "shortName", "typeOfLevel", "level") do index
    select!(index, "shortName", "t")
    select!(index, "typeOfLevel", "isobaricInhPa")
    select!(index, "level", 500)
    for msg in index
        # Do things with msg

This example selects all messages that are temperature at the 500 hPa level. Indexes are invaluable for reducing the complexity of the file before retreiving data from it. There are a few important things to note:

  • Only keys passed to the Index when it is created can be select!ed.
  • All keys passed to Index must be select!ed before accessing any messages.
  • Like with GribFile, retreiving a message from an Index advances the Index.
  • Only the latest value select!ed per key is kept in the Index.
  • Files with multi-field messages cannot be used with Index. This includes most files created by NCEP.

Other notes

This package has support for multi-field messages on by default. If you are not working with files with multi-field messages, you may turn off support with a call to the function nomultisupport.

Bug Reporting

This package has been tested mainly with well-behaved GRIB files, but some files exist that push the boundaries of the format. If you encounter any issues, please file an issue. A good issue has

  • A full stack trace. The error can't be understood without knowing where it comes from.
  • The file causing the issue, if possible.
  • A hypothesis of what you think is going wrong.

Future plans (good places to help out)

  • Add support for BUFR files
  • Add examples
  • Fix the bug in eachpoint that occasionally causes Julia to segfault (probably something with the GC).

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