Panoply netCDF, HDF and GRIB Data Viewer

Additional Color Tables

The Panoply application distribution includes over 100 color tables that may be used as scale colorbars in plots. Additional color tables are provided here. Many more will be added in future.

Please see the notes at the bottom of this page to learn more about the origins of these color tables.

To use a color table in Panoply that you have downloaded from this webpage or from compatible sources such as CPT City (see source list at bottom of page), just open it using the Open command in the File menu. You will then be queried whether you would like to add the color table to Panoply's application support directory for future use.


Sequential Color Tables

Sequential palettes are useful for displaying values that range from a low value to a high value.

Sample Name Comments
Sample colorbar NEO_ceres_sw Dark blue to pale green to white. Example usage: reflected shortwave radiation.
Sample colorbar NEO_modis_chlor Dark blue to pale yellow. Example usage: chlorophyll concentration in ocean waters, with a logarithmic scale.
Sample colorbar NEO_modis_bs_albedo Blue to white. Example usage: albedo.
Sample colorbar NEO_modis_cld_fr Blue to white. Example usage: cloud fraction.
Sample colorbar NEO_gebco_bathymetry Dark blue to white. Example usage: ocean depth.
Sample colorbar NEO_modis_cld_ot Dark blue to white. Example usage: cloud optical thickness.
Sample colorbar NEO_modis_cld_ci Dark purple to white. Example usage: cloud reflectance.
Sample colorbar EO_aura_omi_formal White to light blue to purple. Example usage: formaldehyde.
Sample colorbar NEO_modis_cld_rd White to blue. Example usage: cloud particle radius.
Sample colorbar NEO_omi_ozone_to3 Pale blue to dark blue. Example usage: ozone concentration.
Sample colorbar NEO_trmm_rainfall White to blue. Example usage: rainfall.
Sample colorbar NEO_modis_sky_wv Cream to dark blue. Example usage: water vapor.
Sample colorbar NEO_amsre_sst Dark blue to purple to pale yellow. Example usage: sea surface temperature.
Sample colorbar NEO_modis_sst_45 Dark blue to white. Example usage: sea surface temperature.
Sample colorbar NEO_modis_cld_wp Blue to pink to white. Example usage: cloud water content.
Sample colorbar NEO_lightning_lis_otdp Dark purple to pale pink. Example usage: lightning flash rate.
Sample colorbar NEO_aquarius_sss Dark blue to pink to pale yellow. Example usage: sea surface salinity.
Sample colorbar GIST_heat Black to red to white.
Sample colorbar NEO_ceres_insol Dark red to pale yellow. Example usage: solar insolation.
Sample colorbar NEO_mopitt_co Pale yellow to red. Example usage: carbon monoxide concentration.
Sample colorbar NEO_modis_aer_od Pale yellow to dark orange. Example usage: aerosol optical thickness.
Sample colorbar NEO_omi_no2 Pale yellow to dark orange. Example usage: nitrogen dioxide concentration.
Sample colorbar NEO_sedac_pop White to red. Example usage: population density, with a logarithmic scale.
Sample colorbar NEO_srtm_topography Green to white. Example usage: land topography.
Sample colorbar NEO_modis_ndvi Beige to dark green. Example usage: vegetation index.
Sample colorbar NCDC_precip20in Brown to grown, with unevenly distributed colors and with special outlier colors. Example usage: Total precipitation.
Sample colorbar SVS_soilmoisture Yellow to green to blue. Example usage: Soil moisture.
Sample colorbar NEO_ceres_lw White to blue to red to yellow. Example usage: outgoing longwave radiation.
Sample colorbar NEO_modis_lst Blue to red to yellow. Example usage: land surface temperature.
Sample colorbar NEO_omi_uvi Pale green to pale yellow to dark purple. Example usage: UV index.

Divergent Color Tables

Divergent palettes are useful for displaying values that diverge from a mean value or from a reference value such as 0. The middle colors of a divergent table are usually lighter colors, and often white.

Sample Name Comments
Sample colorbar NCDC_temp_anom Dark blue to dark red. 20 colors plus special outlier colors. Example usage: global surface temperature anomaly.
Sample colorbar NCDC_temp_anom_f Dark blue to white to dark maroon. Example usage: surface temperature anomaly.
Sample colorbar NEO_giss_temp_anom Blue to white to red. Example usage: global temperature anomalies.
Sample colorbar NEO_amsre_sst_anom Dark blue to white to dark red. Example usage: sea surface temperature anomaly.
Sample colorbar NEO_modis_lst_anom Dark blue to white to dark red. Example usage: land surface temperature anomaly.
Sample colorbar SVS_tempanomaly Dark blue to white to dark red. Example usage: global surface temperature anomaly.
Sample colorbar UKM_hadcrut_10 Dark blue to pale yellow to dark red. Example usage: global surface temperature anomaly.
Sample colorbar NCDC_pres_anom Blue to pale gray to red, with special outlier colors. Example usage: Pressure height anomaly.
Sample colorbar NEO_ceres_net Blue-green to pale yellow to red. Example usage: net radiation.
Sample colorbar NYT_drought.cpt Green to pale yellow to red. Example usage: drought index.
Sample colorbar NEO_grace_lwe_anom Brown to white to teal. Example usage: water equivalence anomaly.
Sample colorbar NCDC_snow_anom Brown to white to blue. Example usage: snow cover anomaly.
Sample colorbar EVL_wind_anom Dark brown to white to dark blue. Example usage: wind speed anomaly.
Sample colorbar NCDC_precip_anom Brown to blue. 10 colors plus special outlier colors. Example usage: precipitation anomaly.
Sample colorbar GMT_split Blue to black to red.

Topographic (or Earth/Ocean) Color Tables

Topographic color tables are, in a sense, a form of sequential color table specifically designed for showing topographic relief. However, color shifts may be dis-continuous, particularly if the color table is designed to show both ocean depth and land height. Use of topographic color tables usually requires knowledge of the minimum and maximum values for which a specific color table is designed.

Sample Name Comments
Sample colorbar GIST_earth Example usage: Ocean and land topography.
Sample colorbar GMT_globe Example usage: Ocean and land topography.
Sample colorbar GMT_relief Example usage: Ocean and land topography.
Sample colorbar NEO_srtm_topography Green to white. Example usage: land topography.
Sample colorbar NEO_gebco_bathymetry Dark blue to white. Example usage: ocean depth.

Rainbow Color Tables

Rainbow color tables are a form of sequential of color table that to some degree mimics the color spectrum. They may begin with red and progress through orange, yellow, green and blue to reach purple, or vice versa. Sometimes they are cyclic, wrapping around so that red follows purple. Although rainbow color tables are very often used to display sequential data, their use is discouraged because they can be hard to interpret by persons who have some form of color blindness or vision deficiency.

Sample Name Comments
Sample colorbar GISS_isccp_rainbow Rainbow.
Sample colorbar GISS_isccp_rainbow_20 Rainbow, 20 colors.
Sample colorbar GMT_seis Rainbow.
Sample colorbar GMT_seis_20 Rainbow.
Sample colorbar GMT_cyclic Rainbow, cyclic.
Sample colorbar GMT_haxby Rainbow, 32 colors.
Sample colorbar NCDC_temp100f Dark blue to pale yellow to dark red; 20 colors plus special outlier colors. Example usage: Surface temperature.

Qualitative or Category Color Tables

A qualitative color table is typically used to indicate a number of discrete values that probably do not have a logical progression. They might, for example, be category IDs. The hue and saturation of each color in the table may also be used to show some relative factor such as strength or importance.


Sources

The color tables built into Panoply and those available here come from several sources. Among them are:

CB. Color tables whose names begin with the prefix "CB" are based on color information obtained from ColorBrewer2.org by Cynthia A. Brewer of the Dept. of Geography at Pennsylvania State University.

EVL. Color tables whose names begin with "EVL" are based on color schema used by the NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory.

GMT. Color tables whose names begin with "GMT" are based on color schemes from the Generic Mapping Tools software from SOEST at the University of Hawai'i.

NCDC. Color tables whose names begin with "NCDC" are based on color schema used by the NOAA National Climatic Data Center.

NCL. Color tables whose names begin with "NCL" are based on color schemes from the NCL Graphics Color Table Gallery from UCAR.

NEO. Color tables whose names begin with "NEO" are based on color schemes from the NASA Earth Observations website by the EOS Project Science Office at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

NYT. Color tables whose names begin with "NYT" are based on color schemes used in graphics that appeared in the New York Times.

SVS. Color tables whose names begin with "SVS" are based on color schemes used by the Scientific Visualization Studio at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

UO. Color tables whose names begin with "UO" are based on color schemes described by Light & Bartlein of the Dept. of Geography at the University of Oregon.

UKM. Color tables whose names begin with "UKM" are based on color schemes used by the UK Met Office.

Some color tables included with the Panoply software package were obtained from J.J. Green's CPT City website. See that site for many more CPT format color tables compatible with Panoply.


Formats

Panoply is able to read and apply several different color tables formats. These may be identified by their filename extension and include:

ACT indicates an Adobe Color Table, which may be created by the Photoshop program. The format allows for up to 256 distinct colors.

CPT indicates a color palette format used by the Generic Mapping Tools program. The format defines a number of solid color and/or gradient bands between the colorbar extrema rather than a finite number of distinct colors.

RGB indicates a color table used by the NCL Graphics (formerly NCAR Graphics) software. Although the format does not necessarily have a limit on the number of colors it may define, one rarely sees an RGB color table with more than 256 colors.

Return to Panoply homepage