VIC Model Parameters

We are developing a few scripts to aid users in moving from VIC 4 to VIC 5. These scripts are currently distributed via the tonic Python package.

To convert ASCII parameters to NetCDF parameters for usage in the VIC 5.0 Image Driver, we have instructions for installing Tonic and its dependencies and then reading in and converting ASCII parameters to NetCDF.

Option 1: Installing Tonic Using Anaconda

The easiest way to install Tonic and its dependencies is to use the Anaconda Python distribution. The instructions below assume the user is using the bash shell. tonic supports the use of Python 2.7 or 3.4+.

To install Anaconda, follow these two simple steps (check to make sure the installer version is the most current)

  1. download and run the Anaconda installer:

  2. setup a virtual environment for Tonic

conda create -n tonic python=3.4 netcdf4 pandas numpy scipy matplotlib xray basemap
source activate tonic

Note: you'll need to do the source activate tonic to activate the tonic virtual environment in any new shells.

Now, download the Tonic source code:

git clone
cd tonic

From the Tonic source code repository, Tonic can be installed using Python's distutils:

python install

This installs a top level script, vic_utils, into your $CONDA_ROOT/envs/vic_test/bin directory and the tonic package into your conda environment (e.g. $CONDA_ROOT/lib/.../site-packages/tonic). Note that for most conda installations, $CONDA_ROOT represents the directory where the root conda installation is (e.g. ~/anaconda).

If you don't want to use the Anaconda installation I've shown above, you can build the package in your local python installation using:

python develop

Below are two methods for installing tonic if you do not use anaconda. This may or may not require write permissions. Because this is not our preferred method for installing tonic, the user should read the Python documentation for further instructions on how to install Python packages.

Option 2a: Using a local Python Install (With Write Permissions)

If you have write permissions to the location of your Python distribution, you can just run

python install

from the top level Tonic directory. This will install tonic into your $PYTHONPATH.

Option 2b: Using a local Python Install (Without Write Permissions)

If you do not have write permissions, you can install Tonic in your local $PYTHONPATH by following these steps:

Create a lib/python directory in your $HOME directory:

mkdir -p $HOME/lib/python/

Add this library path to your $PYTHONPATH in your .bashrc:



python install --home=$HOME

Testing your install

From the following command line:

vic_utils -h
python -c 'import tonic'

If you don't get any errors, you should be ready to use tonic.

Using Tonic to convert VIC 4 parameters to netCDF format for VIC 5

Option 1: Using the vic_utils command-line utility

Tonic includes a command-line utility for converting VIC style parameters to gridded netCDF. Usage of the utility can be found by running:

vic_utils grid_params --help

Option 2: Using the tonic api

This option allows the user to specify the format of the individual VIC parameter files. This can be quite useful if the format does not match the assumptions used by the command-line utility.

Example usage:

from tonic.models.vic.grid_params import soil, snow, veg, veg_class, Cols, Desc

n_veg_classes = 4
root_zones = 3

# Read the soil parameters
soil_dict = soil('~/workdir/Stehekin_soil.txt', c=Cols(nlayers=3))

# Read the snow parameters
snow_dict = snow('~/workdir/Stehekin_snowbands.txt',
                 soil_dict, c=Cols(snow_bands=5))

# Read the veg parameter file
veg_dict = veg('~/workdir/Stehekin_vegparam.txt',

# Read the veg library file
veg_lib = veg_class('~/workdir/Stehekin_veglib.txt',

# Determine the grid shape
target_grid, target_attrs = calc_grid(soil_dict['lats'], soil_dict['lons'])

# Grid all the parameters
grid_dict = grid_params(soil_dict, target_grid, version=version
                        veg_dict=veg_dict, veglib_dict=veg_lib, snow_dict=snow_dict)

# Write a netCDF file with all the parameters
write_netcdf('~/workdir/', target_attrs,