I am currently downloading MODIS burned area fire products to use for a work project. One of these products is a GeoTIFF which indicates the day (Julian date) of the year when an area experienced fire.

These GeoTIFF files are available for download by themselves with an extension of .tif and without any sidecar files (e.g. .tfw, etc.). When I open the .tif file in ArcGIS Pro, it is correctly georeferenced.

How is this possible without a sidecar file which contains georeferencing information?

I merely ask this as to me, conceptually, a .tif file is analogous to any other simple image file (e.g. .jpg) and I am curious how it can be natively georeferenced.

1 Answer 1


The GeoTIFF format is an OGC standard that encapsulates the coordinate reference system and crs transform (what would be in a "world" file alongside a standard tiff, jpeg, or png image) in tiff tags in the image itself among other relevant information. This means no sidecar files are required and everything the consuming system needs to know about the image is contained within it.

See https://www.ogc.org/standards/geotiff for the complete specification.

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