NetCDF (network Common Data Form) is a set of interfaces for array-oriented data access and a freely distributed collection of data access libraries for C, Fortran, C++, Java, and other languages. The netCDF libraries support a machine-independent format for representing scientific data. Together, the interfaces, libraries, and format support the creation, access, and sharing of scientific data.
Many common tools for scientific data analysis and visualization support the netCDF file format either natively or via plugins or extension libraries. Some interesting examples are: ArcGIS, CDO (Climate Data Operators), GrADS, IDL, Mathematica, MATLAB, Panoply, Python, and R. For a more extensive list, see Software for Manipulating or Displaying NetCDF Data.
NetCDF data files are:
Scientific data formats make it easier for you to analyze and visualize your project data. If you are collecting data in the field, chances are good that your instruments will either store data in netCDF natively, or in a format that can be easily converted to netCDF, perhaps using Unidata's Rosetta tool. If you are incorporating data collected by others, you may be able to use the netCDF Markup Language (NcML) on a THREDDS Data Server to create virutal datasets that collect all the data your project uses in a single place.
NetCDF libraries are available for a wide variety of different hardware (from personal computers to High Performance Computers/Supercomputers), with interfaces for a wide variety of programming languages. Many common software tools provide built-in support for reading and writing netCDF files.
For additional information about netCDF, see Network Common Data Form.