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ACCESS-NRI ESMValTool-workflow at NCI

What is ESMValTool?

The Earth System Model Evaluation Tool (ESMValTool) is a tool developed for evaluation of Earth System Models in CMIP (Climate Model Intercomparison Projects). It allows for routine comparison of single or multiple models, either against predecessor versions or against observations. ESMValTool is a community-developed climate model diagnostics and evaluation software package, driven both by computational performance and scientific accuracy and reproducibility. It is open to both users and developers, encouraging open exchange of diagnostic source code and evaluation results from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project CMIP ensemble.

For more information, refer to the official ESMValTool documentation.

ACCESS-NRI is supporting an NCI configuration of ESMValTool under the name ESMValTool-workflow.

ESMValTool-workflow is the ACCESS-NRI software and data infrastructure that enables the ESMValTool evaluation framework on NCI Gadi. It includes the ESMValTool/ESMValCore Python packages, the ESMValTool collection of recipes and diagnostics and some observational datasets. ESMValTool-workflow is configured to use the existing NCI supported CMIP data collections.

Using ESMValTool on Gadi

ESMValTool is provided through the xp65 project on Gadi.


To enable the ESMValTool-workflow, you need to be a member of the xp65 NCI projects:

Depending on your needs, you may want to also join the following supported data collections:

  • CMIP6: fs38, oi10
  • CMIP5: rr3, al33
  • ERA5 and ERA5-Land: rt52, zz93
  • obs4MIPs: qv56

Loading the ESMValTool-workflow modules

To load the the esmvaltool module, execute the following commands:

    module use /g/data/xp65/public/modules
    module load esmvaltool

ESMValTool is pre-configured to access CMIP and observation datasets available on Gadi. By default, ESMValTool looks for the config_user.yml file in the home directory, inside the .esmvaltool folder. You can get a copy by running:

esmvaltool config get_config_user --path=dest

To list which ESMValTool recipes are available on Gadi, run:

esmvaltool recipes list

To find out details of a specific recipe_name.yml, execute:

esmvaltool recipes show recipe_name.yml

To retrieve a recipe (and modify it), execute:

esmvaltool recipes get recipe_name.yml

To execute recipe_name.yml and automatically download the required climate data to the default directory, run:

esmvaltool run examples/recipe_python.yml --search_esgf=when_missing
The --search_esgf=when_missing option tells ESMValTool to search for and download the necessary climate data files from Earth System Grid Federation (ESGF), if they cannot be found locally.

ESMValTool recipe examples

A list of ESMValTool recipes available on Gadi can be found on the ACCESS-NRI MED ESMValTool Workflow GitHub repository. Some example recipes are provided below:


To get help running your ESMValTool recipe on Gadi, you can submit an issue on the ESMValTool-Workflow GitHub repository or ask for help on the ACCESS-Hive Forum.

General ESMValTool support (i.e. non-specific to Gadi) can be found on the ESMValTool Discussions page, where users can also post technical questions on the ESMValTool installation, application and development.

Recipes and diagnostics

Contacts for specific diagnostic sets are the authors listed in the source code and corresponding recipe and diagnostic documentation.

The current status of ESMValTool recipes for the xp65 conda environment on Gadi is available here


The ESMValTool is released under the Apache License, version 2.0. Citation of the ESMValTool paper (“Software Documentation Paper”) is requested upon use, along with the software DOI for ESMValTool (doi:10.5281/zenodo.3401363) and ESMValCore (doi:10.5281/zenodo.3387139) together with the version:

Righi, M., Andela, B., Eyring, V., Lauer, A., Predoi, V., Schlund, M., Vegas-Regidor, J., Bock, L., Brötz, B., de Mora, L., Diblen, F., Dreyer, L., Drost, N., Earnshaw, P., Hassler, B., Koldunov, N., Little, B., Loosveldt Tomas, S., and Zimmermann, K.: Earth System Model Evaluation Tool (ESMValTool) v2.0 – technical overview, Geosci. Model Dev., 13, 1179–1199,, 2020.

Besides the above citation, users are asked to register any journal articles (or other scientific documents) that use the software at the ESMValTool webpage ( Citing the Software Documentation Paper and registering your paper(s) will serve to document the scientific impact of the Software, which is important for securing future funding. You should consider this an obligation if you have taken advantage of the ESMValTool, which represents the end product of considerable effort by the development team.

Last update: May 19, 2024