Upload failed. Maybe wrong permissions?

Welcome to Instruments Wiki of the Kiel group

Interface to the Mars Climate Database (MCD)

The MCD is a database of meteorological fields derived from General Circulation Model (GCM) numerical simulations of the Martian atmosphere and validated using available observational data.1)

A Python interface has been created for use with the AtRIS code as well as to give an overview of the MCD data relevant for atmospheric particle simulation.


In the following chapter, a brief instruction on how to get the MCD with the Python interface running is given (Linux only). The procedure has been tested on MCD 5.3 however, older versions of MCD 5.x or 4.x should work similarly. It is assumed that a recent distribution of Python 2, as well as recent versions of numpy and matplotlib are available on your system. Also, you will need the Fortran compiler gfortran.

Setting Up NetCDF

The use of the MCD requires the installation of NetCDF. I recommend getting an older distribution of NetCDF like version 3.6.3, as these work just fine with the MCD, are easier to install and don't require as many dependencies. After downloading the *.tar.gz file I suggest doing the following:

- Unpacking the download

gunzip netcdf-3.6.3.tar.gz
tar xvf netcdf-3.6.3.tar

- Configuring the build using the fPIC option for gfortran.

  cd netcdf-3.6.3
  export FC=gfortran
  export FFLAGS=" -O2 -fPIC"
  export F90=gfortran
  export FCFLAGS="-O2 -ffree-form -fPIC"
  export CPPFLAGS=""
  export CC=gcc
  export CFLAGS="-O2 -fPIC"
  export CXX=g++
  export CXXFLAGS="-O2 -fPIC"

- Installing NetCDF on your system. Make sure to adapt YourPath to your preferences.

  mkdir /YourPath/NETCDF/netcdf3.6.3
  ./configure --prefix=/YourPath/NETCDF/netcdf3.6.3
  make install 
Setting Up The MCD

Information on how to get the latest version of the MCD can be obtained on the MCD website. Please refer to the instructions given in the user manual for general use. A brief guide on how to set up the MCD is given in the following chapter. Note that the provided python Interface in the MCD distribution is not the one this article is about.

  1. Download the MCD files and unpack them to your MCD location
  2. Navigate to the folder MCD/mcd
  3. Open the file named compile and change the variables NCDFINC and NCDFLIB to your previously selected location of NetCDF, so that NCDFINC/include points to the include folder and NCDFLIB/lib points to the lib folder of NetCDF.
  4. Create a symbolic link to the MCD/data directory by doing:
ln -s /full/path/to/MCD/data MCD_DATA
  1. Execute the compile script. This compiles the fortran subroutines
  2. Test your installation by compiling and executing the provided test script:
gfortran test_mcd.F
Setting Up The Python Interface

You can download the Interface at gitlab:


Then do the following:

  1. Create a symbolic link MCD_DATA to the data directory in this folder (like above).
  2. Run export PYTHONPATH=$PYTHONPATH:provideYourPath/MCD_Python_Interface
  3. Open the file compile.sh in the text editor and change the variables wheremcd and NETCDF to your previously selected locations.
  4. Run compile.sh . Files fmcd.log,fmcd.pyf and fmcd.so should have been created.
  5. You now should be able to import MCDinterface and use the MCD subroutines themselves by doing from fmcd import call_mcd,julian in python.

Description Of The Interface

Two Classes derive from MCDinterface:

  • Hprofile represents a height profile and can be used to create atmospheric layers and save them in psf format
  • Tprofile represents a time profile and can be used in order to visualize seasonal and daily changes of atmospheric parameters


Constructor Input
lon scalar marsian longitude
lat scalar marsian latitude
xdate if datekey=0 :tuple earth date in form (day,month,year,hour,minute,second) ,year must be within [1800:2200]
if datekey=1 :scalar [0:360] marsian solar longitude Ls in degrees
xlocaltime if datekey=0 : unused unused
if datekey=1 :scalar [0:24] marsian local time in hours
datekey int [0,1] 0 for use with earth date, 1 for use with mars date
hstep scalar thicknes of each atmospheric layer in meters
scenario int simulation scenario as specified in MCD user manual
dust boolean if True, dust particles are computed in atmospheric layers.Material is same as crust material.
other Class Variables
Class Variable description default
crustThickness thickness of simulated crust in meters 100
azMin minimal azimuthal 0
azMax maximal azimuthal 2 pi
poMin minimal polar angle 0
poMax maximal polar angle pi
tempCrust crust temperature in K 200
densCrust crust density in g/cm³ 93000000
presCrust crust pressure in Pa 5.24
crustComposition crust composition 'O500Si400Fe100'
zMax maximum height above surface to be computet in meters 250000

This function calls the MCD in order to retrieve the data specified by the given class parameters. One has to call this function on an instance of Hprofile once and after making changes to the instance.
Output: Array of shape (n,20). Each row represents an atmospheric layer, each column represents a parameter as specified in the psf format.

Saves the profile to a psf format file (materials are saved GEANT4 compatible) in working directory.
Input: filename
Output: none
Simple function for plotting a parameter against altitude above surface.
Input: param Indice of parameter to plot on x axis:

  • 0: temperature in K
  • 1: density in g/cm ^3
  • 2: pressure in pa
  • 3: dust mass fraction
  • 4: CO2 mass fraction
  • 5: N2 mass fraction
  • 6: Ar mass fraction
  • 7: CO mass fraction
  • 8: O mass fraction
  • 9: O2 mass fraction
  • 10:O3 mass fraction
  • 11:H mass fraction
  • 12:H2 mass fraction

Output: none

Plots mass fractions of atmpsheric components against altitude.
Input: comp
Wether to show molecular (if comp==“molecular”) or elementar (comp==“geant4”) components

Example Usage

import MCDinterface as mcd
#let's look at the atmospheric layers above equator
longitude =0.0
latitude =0.0
#select some time input in solar longitude
#select midday as local time 
localtime =12
#create an instance of Hprofile, enable dust
#we have to actually get the data from the MCD
layers = H.retrieve()
#now plot the temperature against height
#or plot the mass fractions of atmospheric components against height



Constructor Input
lon scalar marsian longitude
lat scalar marsian latitude
minDate scalar [0:360] minimum date to compute (solar longitude)
maxDate scalar [0:360] maximum date to compute (solar longitude)
localtime scalar [0:24] marsian local time in hours
tsteps scalar number of steps between minDate and maxDate to compute
scenario int simulation scenario as specified in MCD user manual

This function calls the MCD in order to retrieve the data specified by the given class parameters. One has to call this function on an instance of Tprofile once and after making changes to the instance.
t: array of shape (n,) with computed timepoints .
A: array of shape with(n,12) computed atmospheric parameters as specified bypsf format.

Plot selected parameter indice t on y and time on x axis. Input indices same as Hprofile.heightPlot(param)

Example Usage

t,A = T.retrieve()


Martian Climate Database Documentation MCD. Retrieved March 3, 2018
QR Code
QR Code atris:mcd (generated for current page)