24 September 2012 – The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC®)membership has approved the Enhanced Data Model Extension to the OGC NetworkCommon Data Form (netCDF) Core Encoding Standard. The Enhanced Data ModelExtension, along with the Core Encoding Standard, the netCDF Binary EncodingExtension Standard – netCDF Classic, and the 64-bit Offset Format (adopted asofficial OGC standards in April 2011) are available for free download at http://www.opengeospatial.org/standards/netcdf.

The enhanced data model (sometimes referred to as thenetCDF-4 data model) is an extension to the classic model that adds new formsof data representation and new data types while preserving backwardcompatibility.  Specifically, it adds six new primitive data types, fouruser-defined data types, multiple unlimited dimensions, and groups to organizedata hierarchically and provide scopes for names.

Although it was originally developed for the Earth sciencecommunity, netCDF can be used to communicate and store a wide variety ofmultidimensional data. The netCDF data model is particularly well suited toproviding data in forms familiar to atmospheric and oceanic scientists,specifically, as sets of related arrays.

NetCDF is self-documenting, which means it can internallystore information used to describe the data. For example, the internaldocumentation can associate various physical quantities (such as temperature,pressure, and humidity) with spatio-temporal locations (such as points atspecific latitudes, longitudes, vertical levels, and times). Climate andForecast (CF) Metadata Conventions are often used in conjunction with netCDF asa means of specifying semantic information that promotes the processing andsharing of climate and forecast data created with the netCDF applicationprogramming interface (API). The semantic metadata is conveyed internallywithin the netCDF datasets.

NetCDF was developed and is supported by the Unidata ProgramCenter at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) (http://www.ucar.edu/) under sponsorship of theAtmospheric and Geoscience Division of the US Government National ScienceFoundation.  It has been formally recognized by the US Government's NASAand NOAA standards bodies. UCAR and other OGC members introduced netCDF intothe OGC as a candidate OGC standard to encourage broader international use andgreater interoperability among clients and servers interchanging data in binaryform. Among other benefits, this will make the large collections ofenvironmental netCDF data more readily accessible and usable by non-experts.

The OGC is an international consortium of more than 465companies, government agencies, research organizations, and universitiesparticipating in a consensus process to develop publicly available geospatialstandards. OGC Standards support interoperable solutions that”geo-enable” the Web, wireless and location-based services, andmainstream IT. OGC Standards empower technology developers to make geospatialinformation and services accessible and useful with any application that needsto be geospatially enabled. Visit the OGC website at http://www.opengeospatial.org/contact.