OGC Endorses Zarr 2.0 Community Standard

The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), the standards body of the geospatial world, has endorsed the Zarr 2.0 specification as a community standard.

Zarr logo
Image source: zarr.dev

Zarr originated in genomics research but has since been adopted by the geospatial community because of its ability to quickly access multi-dimensional data in chunks. Zarr allows accessing a window of its data without having to first download the entire data set and dissect it locally. Think of a thirty-year time series of a grid of ocean-surface temperature data, where you can just retrieve the area around the Canary Islands for the last three years.

Zarr data can be stored in a wide range of storage systems, including object stores, such as AWS S3 or Google Cloud Storage, or in storage accessible via HTTP APIs. This makes Zarr the ideal candidate for cloud-native storage and processing of large, multi-dimensional datasets.

Community standards are a way for the OGC to formally adopt specifications developed outside the OGC standardisation process. A community-standard endorsement signifies that a specification is mature, established, widely used, and implemented into reference software. This is a big step for Zarr 2.0, showing that it is now a de-facto way to access multi-dimensional data sets over the Web.

A community standard usually represents a snapshot of a specification under constant development. The Zarr community already works on advancements to the existing standard, eventually resulting in a new Zarr 3.0 specification and proposed to the OGC as a new community standard. Other work includes an extension to the Zarr 2.0 specification formilising how georefrenced grids should be represented in Zarr.