NetCDF (Network Common Data Format) Conventions

From Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP)


Network Common Data Form (NetCDF) is a set of software libraries and self-describing, machine-independent data formats that support the creation, access, and sharing of array-oriented scientific data.


netCDF is developed and supported by Unidata, a division of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) – and has become the chief source of netCDF software, standards development, updates, etc.


Provide an extensive, common format for scientific data.


The netCDF libraries support 3 different binary formats for netCDF files: a) The classic format — used in the first netCDF release, and is still the default format for file creation; b) The 64-bit offset format — introduced in version 3.6.0, and it supports larger variable and file sizes; and, c) The netCDF-4/HDF5 format — introduced in version 4.0. It is the HDF5 data format, with some restrictions. The netCDF file format was originally based on the conceptual model of the NASA CDF but has since diverged and is no longer compatible with it. It is commonly used in climatology, meteorology and oceanography applications (e.g., weather forecasting, climate change); and is an input/output format for many GIS applications, and for general scientific data exchange.

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