NCL, VAPOR and Related Software Workshops

These workshops are tailored to students and researchers in climate sciences who are interested in learning how to use NCL and other tools like VAPOR to analyze their data. The VAPOR lecture is a recent addition to the NCL workshops, and teaches students how to create three-dimensional visualizations of their data.

The local workshops are held in Boulder, Colorado and are free for all EPSCoR/MSI staff and students, with a modest registration fee for everyone else. We have limited funds available to help EPSCoR/MSI students with travel costs. See the details below.

You can see a sample schedule of the new workshop, which will have interactive sessions interspersed during the lectures, giving students a chance to try things they just learned.

Before registering, see this list of prerequisites to make sure the workshop will be useful for you.

If you are interested in hosting an NCL and/or VAPOR workshop, email Mary Haley and Scott Pearse.

NCL and VAPOR are products of the National Center for Atmospheric Research's Computational and Information Systems Lab. Support for NCL is provided by the National Science Foundation. Support for VAPOR is provided by the U.S. National Science Foundation (grants # 03-25934 and 09-06379, ACI-14-40412), and by the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information.

Upcoming workshops

There are currently no workshops scheduled in Boulder for 2018. We did record some of the NCL lectures as a series of webinars a few years ago. Even though these are older, they are still relevant to learning NCL.

Travel support provided for qualified students in the United States

NCAR/CISL offers travel support for eligible students and faculty members from EPSCoR states and minority-serving institutions (MSIs) in the United States to attend the NCL workshops. Travel support may be used cover designated hotel airfare and hotel. Past attendees of NCL workshops are not eligible.

We are not offering any more workshops for 2018.

Past workshops

List of past NCL workshops at NCAR, universities, and research sites world-wide.


  • The workshops offer a combination of introductory lectures and hands-on labs. During the labs, the instructors work with students to help them write NCL programs or use VAPOR for analyzing their own data.

  • Lecture topics:
    • Overview of NCL
    • Overview of VAPOR
    • Overview of NetCDF and other data formats
    • NCL language basics
    • File input/output
    • Data analysis
    • Graphics
    • NCL website tour

  • Workshops are generally 3-4 days, with the lectures in the morning and hands-on labs in the afternoon.

  • NCAR workshops in Boulder are free for EPSCoR/MSI students, with a modest registration fee for everyone else. They're usually held at the Corporate Technical Training Center (CTTC) at the Center Green Campus in Boulder. This center provides a computer for every attendee. Space is limited to 16 students.

  • We may also be available to teach workshops at your site, if time and budget permits and there is an appropriate teaching lab available (projector for presentations, and LINUX/UNIX computers running NCL for the students). If you are interested in having us teach a workshop at your site, please visit this page for more information.


In order to attend an NCL workshop, students must meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Have a basic knowledge of basic UNIX command line operations, for example:
    • listing the directory contents
    • moving and/or copying files from one directory to another
    • editing programs or scripts using a UNIX editor
    • executing programs or scripts from the UNIX command line
    • using ftp/sftp to upload or download files

  • Have written code using an interpreted (e.g. Python, IDL, MATLAB) or a non-interpreted (e.g. Fortran, C) computer language.

Students who don't have knowledge of basic UNIX commands or at least one computer language will likely find the NCL portion of the workshop too advanced.

Useful links for participants

Information for out-of-town visitors

The Boulder workshops are held at:

Corporate Technical Training Center (CTTC)
Center Green Campus, Building CG-2, Room #3024
3085 Center Green Drive
Boulder, Colorado 80301
United States

For more information about the CTTC and the Center Green Campus:


This space will be used to indicate whether we have a block of rooms reserved for a particular workshop.


The closest airport to Boulder is Denver International Airport (DIA), which is about a 45-minute drive.

The first day of the workshop starts with the check-in at 8:30 AM, so we recommend flying in the day before. The fourth (last) day of the workshop has a morning lecture followed by an optional afternoon lab. You can choose to skip the fourth hands-on lab and fly out that afternoon.

There are various transportation options for getting to and from the airport, and around Boulder. It takes about an hour to get to DIA from the CTTC.