GeoTIFF

Summary

OGC GeoTIFF Standard is an OGC® Implementation Standard. GeoTIFF is based on the TIFF format and is used as an interchange format for georeferenced raster imagery. GeoTIFF is in wide use in NASA Earth science data systems.

Until recently, there has been no up-to-date specification for the GeoTIFF file format. The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) published version 1.1 of the OGC GeoTIFF Standard in September, 2019. Version 1.1 is backwards-compatible with the original GeoTIFF 1.0 specification of 1995.

There are other scientific file formats that are well established within the NASA community, e.g., HDF5, and netCDF. However, there is continued interest and demand for the GeoTIFF file format, mostly as a distribution format for satellite or aerial photography imagery but also for other kinds of data such as Digital Elevation Model (DEM) data and Digital Ortho Quadrangle data.

Status

GeoTIFF 1.1 is an approved NASA Earth Science Data Systems standard.

DRAFT Standard
OGC® GeoTIFF Standard, Version 1.1, OGC Document 19-008r4
Published September 14, 2019
ESO Recommendation document ESDS-RFC-040v1.1 - GeoTIFF File Format
User Resources Cloud Optimized GeoTIFF
A GeoTIFF profile that enables efficient access in a cloud computing environment.

Open Geospatial Consortium GeoTIFF repository
Contains specification text and issues reported and/or under consideration for next version.

NASA Earth Science Community Recommendations for Use

Strengths

The GeoTIFF file format is in widespread use worldwide. NASA DAACs provide data in GeoTIFF format as do other NASA Earth science data providers. There is strong software support in the form of the open source libgeotiff library and Geospatial Data Abstraction Library (GDAL) package. Many commercial GIS and spatial data analysis software products support reading and writing GeoTIFF data.

The Earth science cloud computing community is developing a means of optimizing GeoTIFF files for use in cloud computing workflows. Cloud Optimized GeoTIFF (COG) files adhere to the GeoTIFF specification so all prior software and workflows can consume COG files.

Weaknesses

While the GeoTIFF format provides for a tremendous amount of interoperability as evidenced by its widespread use within NASA and elsewhere, there is room for further discussion about how to increase interoperability. Work on this topic continues in the NASA Dataset Interoperability Working Group (DIWG) as part of the larger Earth Science Data System Working Group effort within NASA ESDIS.

Applicability

The GeoTIFF file format was developed primarily as a distribution format for satellite or aerial photography imagery as well as for other kinds of data such as Digital Elevation Model (DEM) data, and Digital Ortho Quadrangle data.

Limitations

GeoTIFF is not necessarily suitable for every data type. There are other scientific file formats that are well established within the NASA community, e.g., HDF5 and netCDF, that are approved for use in NASA Earth science data systems.

GeoTIFF is not suitable for storing complex multi-dimensional data structures nor for storing vector data with many attributes or topology information.

Last Updated: Sep 16, 2019 at 5:18 PM EDT