I have a large raster file (245295396) cells and stacks of rasters having 4 layers each which lie in the extent of this large raster. To start with I am trying to get value from one stack (3 channels) and for the same zone from the large raster. Every things works fine, just the extraction from large raster takes 5 mins. So, if I repeat this process for 4000 more times it will take 13 days.

cld<- raster("cdl_30m_r_il_2014_albers.tif") #this is the large raster
r<- stack(paste(path,"/data_robin/", fl,sep="")) #1 stack,I have 4000 similar
mat<-as.data.frame(getValues(r)) # getting values from the stack
xy<-xyFromCell(r,c(1:ncell(r)),spatial = TRUE)
clip1 <- crop(cld, extent(r)) # Tried to crop it to a smaller size
mat$landuse<- NA
# mat$landuse<-cld[cells]
mat$landuse<- extract(clip1,cells) #this line takes 5 mins based on profiling

> cld
class       : RasterLayer 
dimensions  : 20862, 11758, 245295396  (nrow, ncol, ncell)
resolution  : 30, 30  (x, y)
extent      : 378585, 731325, 1569045, 2194905  (xmin, xmax, ymin, ymax)
coord. ref. : +proj=aea +lat_1=29.5 +lat_2=45.5 +lat_0=23 +lon_0=-96 +x_0=0 +y_0=0 +datum=NAD83 +units=m +no_defs +ellps=GRS80 +towgs84=0,0,0 
data source : /Users/kaswani/R/Image/cdl_30m_r_il_2014_albers.tif 
names       : cdl_30m_r_il_2014_albers 
values      : 0, 255  (min, max) 

> r
class       : RasterStack 
dimensions  : 9230, 7502, 69243460, 4  (nrow, ncol, ncell, nlayers)
resolution  : 0.7995722, 0.7995722  (x, y)
extent      : 589084.4, 595082.8, 1564504, 1571884  (xmin, xmax, ymin, ymax)
coord. ref. : +proj=aea +lat_1=29.5 +lat_2=45.5 +lat_0=23 +lon_0=-96 +x_0=0 +y_0=0 +ellps=GRS80 +towgs84=0,0,0,0,0,0,0 +units=m +no_defs 
names       : m_3608906_ne_16.1, m_3608906_ne_16.2, m_3608906_ne_16.3, m_3608906_ne_16.4 
min values  :                 0,                 0,                 0,                 0 
max values  :               255,               255,               255,               255 

My data is in .tiff format and I am new to geospatial coding.

I have also tried the approach at Increasing speed of crop, mask, & extract raster by many polygons in R? but during the masking part it gives an error Error in compareRaster(x, mask) : different extent.

  • Duplicate of stackoverflow.com/questions/31757343/…
    – user32309
    Commented Aug 1, 2015 at 8:04
  • 1
    The two rasters have VERY different resolutions (30m vs. 0.7995722). The difference is a factor of 37.52, which, applied to both x and y dimensions, means that over 1400 pixels from the smaller raster map into a single pixel in the large raster. Ultimately it means that you are doing 1400x more work than you need to do to get the same information. What is your desired output? Do you want the smaller rasters to be paired with equal size/extent rasters that contain the coarse-scale values from the large data? Be very specific.
    – aaryno
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 16:48
  • @aaryno Thanks for the comment. "r" the high-resolution raster are satellite images of a state and "cld" is crop data for the same state. I am trying to remove the crop region from the satellite data (r). As it is not required for further processing. Commented Aug 4, 2015 at 18:36
  • You should be aware that crop takes the intersection of two extents, which means you are losing pixels from the edge of the lower-res raster. You want to extend the intersection first, since you ultimately want those edge pixels from r, so that when you crop it later by extent(r) you have all the pixels you need. Additionally, extent(r) could be partially (or completely) outside extent(cld) so you may need to union the expanded extent with extent(r) to make sure r is completely covered. Luckily, there's an easier solution...
    – aaryno
    Commented Aug 4, 2015 at 19:39

2 Answers 2


1) resample results in 50% improvement

I was able to get about 50% improvement by resampling directly from the cld raster to a new raster with the same extent/resolution as r and a nearest neighbor sampling method:

  mat$landuse<- NA
   user  system elapsed 
   2.60    0.00    2.61


  mat<-as.data.frame(getValues(r)) # getting values from the stack
  xy<-xyFromCell(r,c(1:ncell(r)),spatial = TRUE)
  mat$landuse<- NA
  mat$landuse<- extract(clip1,cells) #this line takes 5 mins based on profiling
   user  system elapsed 
   4.98    0.00    5.02 

On a smaller dataset, and with a much smaller memory footprint

2) Parallelization could get you a lot more

That will improve things significantly but you can get massive improvement if you can parallelize this. R comes with a couple parallelization backends and they all run through foreach. I assume you are going to either process mat in place or save it for later. Since it takes so much work to get that resampled data let's just assume we'll save it for later. The most convenient form is probably a raster alongside the data_robin files.

Unfortunately, Windows and Unix parallelization options differ. On linux, use doMC, on Windows use doSNOW. Assuming we employ 4 workers:

linux initialization:

registerDoMC(4) # number of workers should be less than number of CPU cores

windows initialization:

cluster<-makeCluster(4, type = "SOCK") # num workers should be < num CPU cores



# Assume you have an array of filenames called 'files'
foreach (i=1:length(filenames), .packages=c('raster')) %dopar% {
    r <- stack(paste0(path, "/data_robin/", files[i]))
    outFilename=paste0(path, "/data_robin/", file_path_sans_ext(files[i]), "_cld.tif")
    cldResampled <- resample(cld,r,method='ngb')
    writeRaster(cldResampled, filename=outFilename, format="GTiff")

One of the drawbacks of the parallel foreach is that it's hard to tell when something goes wrong. It would be good to do this serially first by replacing the %dopar% with %do% until you know it is working, and then let it run through the whole thing.

Caveats In my simple example above (each raster had 1/100 the pixels in cld and r, respectively) I only improved an additional 30% by engaging 5 workers over doing it serially with just the single process. I was unable to parallelize the example with large rasters without getting Error in { : task 1 failed - "cannot allocate vector of size xx.x Mb". I think conceptually this should work but I wasn't able to get it working at the scale you are working at.

  • Thanks for such a detailed answer. I have edited my code using your advice and posted as an answer. I would appreciate if you can suggest changes to improve efficiency. Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 19:17

@aaryno Thanks for the detailed explanation. I tried using your code but it produces different output. I had to make a small change by substituting in the following line "cld" mat$landuse<-getValues(resample(cld,r,method='ngb')) with "clip1".After that, it works just fine. I tried deploying the below code to a windows machine and it works.

fl1 <- list.files(path,pattern="*6.tif|*5.tif")
cld<- raster("cdl_30m_r_il_2014_albers.tif")

worker<- function(i,path,out_path,fl1,cld){ 
  r<- stack(paste0(path, fl1[i]))
  outFilename=paste0(out_path,"cld_",strsplit(fl1[i], "\\.")[[1]][1],".csv")
  mat<- data.frame()
  clip1 <- crop(cld, extent(r))
  mat$landuse<- NA
  rowsToKeep<-which(mat$landuse > 120 & mat$landuse < 125)
  mat<- mat[rowsToKeep,]
  write.csv(mat, file=outFilename, row.names=F)

i<- 1:length(fl1)
clusterEvalQ(cl, { library(raster); library(stringr);library(rgdal) })

I don't really have to save it in the csv format or create a dataframe but that is what I am most comfortable within R. I would appreciate if some change in this code can lead to big improvement.

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