This data set contains resampled and smoothed elevation measurements of Arctic and Antarctic sea ice, and Greenland, Antarctic Peninsula, and West Antarctic region land ice surface acquired using the NASA Airborne Topographic Mapper (ATM) instrumentation. The data were collected as part of Operation IceBridge funded aircraft survey campaigns.
Operation IceBridge products may include test flight data that are not useful for research and scientific analysis. Test flights usually occur at the beginning of campaigns. Users should read flight reports for the flights that collected any of the data they intend to use. Check IceBridge campaign Flight Reports for dates and information about test flights.
We kindly request that you cite the use of this data set in a publication using the following citation. For more information, see our Use and Copyright Web page.
Krabill, William B. 2010, updated 2015. IceBridge ATM L2 Icessn Elevation, Slope, and Roughness. Version 2. [indicate subset used]. Boulder, Colorado USA: NASA DAAC at the National Snow and Ice Data Center. http://nsidc.org/data/ilatm2.html.
NASA DC-8 and P-3B
Airborne Topographic Mapper (ATM)
Antarctica, Greenland, and Arctic/Antarctic oceans
80 m sample width 40 m spacing along track
20 March 2013 to present
Comma Separated Value (CSV) ASCII
See the Version History section of this document for previous version information.
CSV data beginning with the 2013 Arctic campaign: FTP
Fixed-width, space-delimited ASCII data for 2012 and earlier campaigns: FTP
NASA/Wallops Flight Facility (WFF)
Hydrospheric & Biospheric Sciences Laboratory
Wallops Island, VA 23337
NSIDC User Services
National Snow and Ice Data Center
CIRES, 449 UCB
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309-0449 USA
phone: +1 303.492.6199
fax: +1 303.492.2468
form: Contact NSIDC User Services
The ATM project team would like to acknowledge the dedicated NASA P3 and DC8 flight crews, whose efforts allowed the safe and efficient collection of this data over some of the most isolated and extreme regions on this planet.
The ATM L2 Icessn Elevation, Slope, and Roughness data files are in Comma Separated Value (CSV) ASCII format.
The header of each CSV data file contains the same information that appears in the Summary file in 2012 and earlier campaigns. Summary files contain information for start time, stop time, swath width, segments, output interval, smoothing interval, minimum data points, comments and icessn and qfit processing header information.
Each data file is paired with an associated XML file. The XML files contain location, platform, and instrument metadata.
Note: Currently V01 ILATM2 data for 2009 through 2012 are in fixed-width, space-delimited ASCII format. Beginning with the 2013 Arctic campaign, all data will be provided in CSV format. In the near future, data from all campaigns prior to Spring 2013 will be replaced with CSV data and added to V02. For details on the V01 data, see the V01 documentation.
Data are available on the FTP site in the ftp://n5eil01u.ecs.nsidc.org/SAN2/ICEBRIDGE/ILATM2.002/ directory. Within this directory, the folders are organized by date, for example /2013.03.20/ to /2014.05.21/.
Icessn files are named according to the following convention and as described in Table 1:
|ILATM2||File name prefix indicating ATM L2 data|
|HH||start time: two-digit hours|
|MM||start time: two-digit minutes|
|SS||start time: two-digit seconds|
|smooth||alongtrack values smoothed in icessn process|
|nadir3seg||nadir block plus 3 off-nadir blocks per time stamp|
|50pt||50% overlap between successively smoothed blocks|
|.csv||indicates comma separated value ascii file|
Elevation measurement files are approximately 100 KB to 520 KB.
Summary files are approximately 7 KB each.
The Version 2 data set beginning with the 2013 Arctic campaign is approximately 2.3 GB.
The Version 1 data set for 2012 and earlier campaign is approximately 5.5 GB.
Spatial coverage for the IceBridge ATM campaigns includes the Arctic, Greenland, Antarctica, and surrounding ocean areas. In effect, this represents the coverage noted below.
Arctic / Greenland:
Southernmost Latitude 60° N
Northernmost Latitude: 90° N
Westernmost Longitude: 180° W
Easternmost Longitude: 180° E
Southernmost Latitude: 90° S
Northernmost Latitude: 53° S
Westernmost Longitude: 180° W
Easternmost Longitude: 180° E
The ATM surface elevation measurements have been re-sampled at a variable along-track time interval, typically 0.5 seconds, which at aircraft survey speed is a distance along the flight track of approximately 50 meters. The distance can vary with aircraft speed. Each set of along-track records contains a fixed 80 m across-track nadir platelet as well as three or five additional platelets that together span the entire swath of the ATM scan. This data set contains data from one of two different ATM sensors depending on the year the data were collected. The ATM 15-degree off-nadir scanner (T2) has an off-nadir scan angle of 15 degrees and these data were smoothed into three across-track platelets. The ATM 23-degree off-nadir scanner (T3) has an off-nadir scan angle of 23 degrees and is smoothed into five across-track platelets. The across-track widths of these three to five additional platelets can vary with aircraft altitude.
No projection. Data are georeferenced to WGS-84.
These data were collected as part of Operation IceBridge funded campaigns from 20 March 2013 to 24 April 2013.
IceBridge campaigns are conducted on an annual repeating basis. Arctic and Greenland campaigns are conducted during March, April, and May, and Antarctic campaigns are conducted during October and November.
The ATM L2 Icessn Elevation, Slope, and Roughness data set includes glacier, ice sheet, and sea ice elevation measurements, slope measurements, and roughness measurements.
Icessn data files contain parameters as defined in Table 3.
|UTC_Seconds_Of_Day||Time at which the aircraft passed the mid-point of the block.||Seconds of the day in GPS time. As of 01 January 2009 GPS time = UTC + 15 seconds.||0 to 86400|
|Latitude||Latitude of the center of the block.||Degrees||-90.0 to +90.0|
|Longitude||East longitude of the center of the block.||Degrees||0.0 to 360.0|
|WGS84_Ellipsoid_Height||Height above WGS84 ellipsoid of the center of the block.||Meters||-100.0 to 10000.0|
|South-to-North_Slope||South to North slope of the block.||Dimensionless||any real value|
|West-to-East_Slope||West to East slope of the block.||Dimensionless||any real value|
|RMS_Fit||RMS fit of the ATM data to the plane.||Centimeters||Greater than 0.0|
|Number_Of_ATM_Measurments_Used||Number of points used in estimating the plane parameters.||Count||Greater than 0|
|Number_Of_ATM_Measurements_Removed||Number of points removed in estimating the plane parameters.||Count||Greater than or equal to 0|
|Distance_Of_Block_To_The_Right_Of_Aircraft||Distance of the center of the block from the centerline of the aircraft trajectory (starboard = positive, port = negative).||Meters||real valued|
|Track_Identifier||Track identifier (numbered 1...n, starboard to port, and 0 = nadir).||Number||0, 1, 2, …|
Below is an excerpt from data file ILATM2_20130424_183845_smooth_nadir3seg_50pt.csv.
Current 2013 and later Version 2 data are available via FTP.
Fixed-width, space-delimited ASCII data for 2012 and earlier campaigns: FTP
NSIDC provides a MATLAB reader that reads ATM icessn data files from the Operation IceBridge Airborne Topographic Mapper instrument. The elevation measurement files and the summary files also may be opened by any text editor or word processing program that reads ASCII text files..
A laser altimeter measures range from the instrument to a target by measuring the elapsed time between emission of a laser pulse and detection of laser energy reflected by the target surface. Range to the target is calculated as half the elapsed emission/return time multiplied by the speed of light. Target range is converted to geographic position by integration with platform GPS and attitude or Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) information.
The ATM instrument package includes suites of LIDAR, GPS and attitude measurement subsystems. The instrument package is installed onboard the aircraft platform and calibrated during ground testing procedures. Installation mounting offsets, the distances between GPS and attitude sensors and the ATM LIDARs, are measured using surveying equipment. One or more ground survey targets, usually aircraft parking ramps, are selected and surveyed on the ground using differential GPS techniques. Prior to missions, one or more GPS ground stations are established by acquiring low rate GPS data over long time spans. Approximately one hour prior to missions both the GPS ground station and aircraft systems begin data acquisition. During the aircraft flight, the ATM instrument suite acquires LIDAR, GPS and attitude sensor data over selected targets, including several passes at differing altitudes over the selected ground survey calibration sites. The aircraft and ground systems continue to acquire data one hour post-mission. Instrument parameters estimated from the surveys of calibration sites are used for post-flight calculation of laser footprint locations. These parameters are later refined using inter-comparison and analysis of ATM data where flight lines cross or overlap.
The ATM surface elevation measurements have been re-sampled into an icessn format which smoothes the data and reduces the data volume. Users desiring unsampled data should use the ATM Level-1B format data.
The fundamental form of ATM topography data is a sequence of laser footprint locations acquired in a swath along the aircraft flight track. The icessn program condenses the ATM surface elevation measurements by fitting a plane to blocks of points selected at regular intervals along track and several across track. The block size and spacing can be specified, but a few typical values are used. The along-track distance smoothed is the distance which the aircraft moves in a fixed interval, 0.5 seconds for P-3 and DC8 aircraft, and 1.0 seconds for DHC-6 Twin-Otter. The data output interval is half of the smoothing interval so that there is 50 percent overlap between successively smoothed blocks. For each along-track position/time, there are multiple blocks spaced evenly across-track to span the swath width. Typically the number of blocks is five for the T3 scanner and three for the T2 scanner. There is an additional block located at aircraft nadir with a width typically set to 80 m. If a single profile is desired, the nadir profile can be selected from the full data set.
The two slopes estimated are used to estimate surface elevations at points other than the center point through the use of the following algorithm shown in Equation 1 and described in Table 4:.
|ht(phi,lambda) = ht(phi0,lambda0)
+ SNslope * (phi - phi0) * 6378137 * pi/180
+ WEslope * (lambda - lambda0) * cos(phi0) * 6378137 * pi/180
|ht||height in meters at coordinates (phi, lambda)|
|phi||latitude at location of interest (radians)|
|lambda||longitude at location of interest (radians)|
|phi0||latitude at center of tile (radians)|
|6378137||WGS84 ellipsoid semi-major axis (meters)|
|lambda0||longitude at center of tile (radians)|
|SNslope||south/north slope of the tile|
|WEslope||west/east slope of the tile|
Note: The multiple across-track planes at a given along-track position will have the same time tag.
The following processing steps are performed by the data provider.
Beginning with the 2013 Arctic campaign, all data will be provided in CSV format. In the near future, data from all campaigns prior to Spring 2013 will be replaced with CSV data and added to V02.
A header has been added to the V02 ILATM2 data format. In V01, the ILATM2 data set consisted of pairs of files for each data segment: one data file, for example ILATM2_YYYYMMDD_HHMMSS_50pt_smooth_nadir3seg, and one summary file, ILATM2_YYYYMMDD_HHMMSS_50pt_icessn_summary. The new header of the V02 data file contains information that had appeared in the summary file, making the summary file redundant.
During collection of IceBridge ATM Greenland data on 12 and 13 April 2010, hydraulic oil progressively leaked from the forward landing gear on the DC8 aircraft. The oil was blown back along the bottom of the fuselage and across the nadir window through which the ATM was transmitting and receiving the laser signal. The ATM signal was attenuated, and data in part of the scan is missing as a result. The problem developed during the flight and worsened through time. The ATM still acquired more than half of the shots throughout the scan. The net effect of this problem is to decrease the number of shot returns logged, the same as if the laser power was reduced. To the user this will appear as a reduced point density on the ground. This issue will not affect the accuracy of the data. In the Antarctic 2010 campaign, fuel leakage degraded the signal in a similar fashion.
The April 28, 2012 flight traversed the notoriously turbulent regions of Greenland's southeast glaciers. During the flight, two planned glaciers were skipped due to concern about expected severe turbulence. The survey data spans roughly 11:15 to 18:20 UTC. On the approach to Ikerssuaq glacier at 16:56:19.5 (GPST=60994.5 secs), both the ATM T3 and T4 instruments quit recording data within 0.1 second of each other. T3 resumed at 16:57:05.3 whereas T4 did not resume for the rest of that day's flight. Following this event, the flight followed the Ikerssuaq flow line, then traversed straight west across the icesheet back to the Kangerlussuaq airport. The data gap spans 46 seconds, from the fjord up to about 500 m elevation on the Ikerssuaq glacier. The T4 data quit during the creation of the file 20120428_165532.ATM4BT4.F1.qi. The Level-1B T4 data were supplemented by the these Level-1B narrow swath files of T3 data from the latter part of the survey:
The above files can be found with the IceBridge ATM L1B Elevation and Return Strength data in the /2012.04.28/ folder. For details on the ATM 4BT3 and 4BT4 instruments, see the Sensor Or Instrument Description section, and the IceBridge Narrow Swath ATM L1B Elevation and Return Strength data set documentation.
The ATM is an airborne LIDAR instrument used by NASA for observing the Earth's topography for several scientific applications, foremost of which is the measurement of changing Arctic and Antarctic icecaps and glaciers. The ATM instrument is a scanning airborne laser that measures surface elevation of the ice by timing laser pulses transmitted from the aircraft, reflected from the ground and returning to the aircraft. This laser pulse time-of-flight information is used to derive surface elevation measurements by combining measurement of the scan pointing angle, precise GPS trajectories and aircraft attitude information. The ATM instrument measures topography as a sequence of points scanned in a swath along the aircraft flight track. The sampling frequency for the ATM is 5 kHz.
The ATM instruments are developed and maintained at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) in Virginia, USA. During Operation IceBridge, the ATM has been installed aboard the NASA P3-B aircraft based at WFF, or the NASA DC8 aircraft based at Dryden Air Force Base in Palmdale, California. During previous campaigns, the ATM has flown aboard other P-3 aircraft, several de Havilland Twin Otters (DHC-6), and a C-130. The ATM has been used for surveys flown in Greenland nearly every year since 1993. Other uses have included measurement of sea ice, verification of satellite radar and laser altimeters, and measurement of sea-surface elevation and ocean wave characteristics. The ATM often flies in conjunction with a variety of other instruments and has been participating in NASA's Operation IceBridge since 2009.
Kwok, R., G. F. Cunningham, S. S. Manizade, and W. B. Krabill. 2012. Arctic sea ice freeboard from IceBridge acquisitions in 2009: Estimates and comparisons with ICESat. Journal of Geophysical Research 117: C02018. doi:10.1029/2011JC007654.
The acronyms used in this document are listed in Table 5.
|ASCII||American Standard Code for Information Interchange|
|ATM||Airborne Topographic Mapper|
|CIRES||Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science|
|CSV||Comma Separated Values|
|ECS||NASA Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) Core System|
|FTP||File Transfer Protocol|
|GPS||Global Positioning System|
|ICESat||Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite|
|INS||inertial navigation system|
|LIDAR||LIght Detection And Ranging|
|NASA||National Aeronautics and Space Administration|
|NSIDC||National Snow and Ice Data Center|
|T2||ATM 15-degree off-nadir scanner|
|T3||ATM 23-degree off-nadir scanner|
|URL||Uniform Resource Locator|
|UTC||Universal Time Code|
|WFF||Wallops Flight Facility|
|WGS 84||World Geodetic System 1984|
29 January 2014
9 June 2014
14 January 2014