Web Feature Services (WFS) Help

General Information

NCDC uses the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC)® Web Feature Services (WFS) implementation specification to distribute GIS data.

Software Requirements

The data access instructions use ESRI's® ArcGIS Desktop® version 10.0 with the Data Interoperability extension installed.

Click here for more on enabling interoperability connections in ESRI's ArcGIS Desktop.


**Note: We have noticed some strange rendering behavior in ArcMap when using a Web Feature Service (WFS). The layers will occasionally draw incorrectly, appearing rotated.

This is due to bug NIM068102 in ArcGIS.

Data Access

Step 1

Using ESRI's ArcCatalog®, open Interoperability Connections in the left content pane and double click Add Interoperability Connection.

This will open the Interoperability Connection dialog:

Interoperability Connection Dialog

Step 2

For the format, select WFS (Web Feature Service) and click the Parameters button.

The WFS (Web Feature Service) Parameters dialog appears:

WFS (Web Feature Service) Parameters

Step 3

The WFS Connection input URL will be the first part of the WFS GetCapabilities link, including the question mark.

Example WFS GetCapabilities

The WFS GetCapabilities link for Local Climatological Data is:


So the following would be entered as the input URL:


Step 4

Click the ellipsis button to the right of the Table List in the Constraints section.

This opens the Select Feature Types dialog:

Select Feature Types Dialog

Check the desired layer(s) and click OK.

Step 5

If the layer(s) has many features, you may need to increase the Max Features in the Constraints section to ensure that all features are returned (default is 30,000):

Constraints - Max Features

Step 6

Click OK on the WFS (Web Feature Service) Parameters dialog and again on the Interoperability Connection dialog.

A new Interoperability Connection appears in ArcCatalog:

Interoperability Connection

Step 7

Drag and drop the Local_Climatological_Data feature class into ESRI's ArcMap®. ArcMap will fetch and display the features in the map view:

WFS in ArcMap


Once features are displayed in ArcMap, they can be easily exported to a local ESRI shapefile®.

Step 1

Right-click on the layer in ArcMap's Table of Contents to bring up a context menu:

Layer Context Menu

Mouse-over Data on the context menu which opens another menu:

Data Context Menu

Click Export Data... to open the Export Data dialog:

Export Data Dialog

Step 2

Determine where the output feature class should be saved and click OK.