Near-Real-Time DMSP SSM/I-SSMIS Daily Polar Gridded Brightness Temperatures

The Near-Real-Time DMSP SSM/I-SSMIS Daily Polar Gridded Brightness Temperature product provides near-real-time brightness temperatures for both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

Table of Contents

  1. Contacts and Acknowledgments
  2. Detailed Data Description
  3. Data Access and Tools
  4. Data Acquisition and Processing
  5. References and Related Publications
  6. Document Information

Citing These Data

As a condition of using these data, you must cite the use of this data set using the following citation. For more information, see our Use and Copyright Web page.

Cavalieri, D. J., P. Gloersen, and H. Zwally. 1999. Near-Real-Time DMSP SSM/I-SSMIS Daily Polar Gridded Brightness Temperatures. [indicate subset used]. Edited by J. Maslanik and J. Stroeve. Boulder, Colorado USA: NASA DAAC at the National Snow and Ice Data Center.



DMSP 5D-2/F13, DMSP 5D-3/F17, DMSP 5D-2/F15



Spatial Coverage

North and south polar regions

Spatial Resolution

25 km, 12.5 km

Temporal Coverage

1 July 1999 - present

Temporal Resolution



Brightness temperature

Data Format

2-byte scaled integer data

Metadata Access

View Metadata Record

Current Version


Data Access


1. Contacts and Acknowledgments


James Maslanik
Research Professor Emeritus
Aerospace Engineering Sciences
University of Colorado at Boulder
Boulder, CO 80309-0431
Office: ECES 1B25A
Phone: (303) 492-8974

Technical Contact

NSIDC User Services
National Snow and Ice Data Center
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309-0449  USA
phone: +1 303.492.6199
fax: +1 303.492.2468
form: Contact NSIDC User Services

2. Detailed Data Description

Warning: Due to the compromised data integrity with the DMSP F17 vertically polarized 37 GHz channel (37V) of the Special Sensor Microwave Imager and Sounder (SSMIS), NSIDC will be distributing data from both the F17 and F18 satellites, starting with 1 April 2016 data. Using data from the 37V channel from the F17 satellite is not recommended. Instead, you should use data from the F18 satellite's 37V channel.

These brightness temperatures are used to generate Near-Real-Time DMSP SSM/I-SSMIS Daily Polar Gridded Sea Ice Concentrations. Near-real-time passive microwave brightness temperatures are received daily from the Special Sensor Microwave Imager/Sounder (SSMIS) on board the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) F17 satellite, and are gridded onto the SSM/I polar stereographic grid. The SSMIS instrument is the next generation Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I) instrument. SSMIS data used for this data set are received from the Comprehensive Large Array-data Stewardship System (CLASS) at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Two-byte scaled integer data are available via FTP at a resolution of 25 km for the 19, 22, and 37 GHz channels, and at 12.5 km resolution for the 85 GHz and 91GHz channels. NSIDC plans daily updates to the data. These data will be retained on the FTP site until NSIDC's standard brightness temperature product, DMSP SSM/I-SSMIS Daily Polar Gridded Brightness Temperatures, is available.

Typically, NSIDC receives the standard SSM/I brightness temperatures from Remote Sensing Systems, Inc. (RSS), who derive them from SSM/I antenna temperatures, between three and six months after the initial satellite overpass. NSIDC chose to provide near-real-time brightness temperatures to facilitate time-sensitive research dependent upon precise detection of seasonal polar sea ice formation and break up. Daily brightness temperatures consist of seven files, one for each channel and polarization, for each hemisphere.

Possible differences between the standard and near-real-time products remain to be determined. The near-real-time data do not supplant the standard products, but instead fill the gap in time between present-day and the delivery of the RSS data. Users are therefore cautioned to be aware of potential data differences and should continue to use the standard products derived from the RSS data for time series analyses.

Note: These data may contain errors and are not suitable for time series, anomalies, or trends analyses. Near-real-time products do not undergo quality assessment and are therefore not intended for operational use.

Near-real-time data will remain on-line and available to users for three months after receipt of NSIDC's standard products from RSS. The file naming convention allows users to easily distinguish the near-real-time data from the standard SSM/I brightness temperatures.

For general information about these data, please see the DMSP SSM/I-SSMIS Daily Polar Gridded Brightness Temperatures. Users interested in understanding how the near-real-time data were acquired and processed should review the Near-Real-Time SSM/I-SSMIS EASE-Grid Daily Global Ice Concentration and Snow Extent documentation.


The near-real-time brightness temperature files are stored as 2-byte scaled integer data.

File and Directory Structure

The data reside on FTP in the directory. Within this directory there is one folder: F18 and a listing of data files. The F18 folder contains the date from the F18 satellite and the listing of data files are data from the F17 satellite.

File Naming Convention

The data files are named according to the following convention and as described in Table 1:



Table 1. File Naming Convention Variable Description
Variable Description
tb Indicates this file contains brightness temperature data
fxx Indicates which DMSP satellite the data came from (f13: DMSP-F13; f15: DMSP-F15; f17: DMSP-F17)
Note: DMSP-F13 and -F15 data currently retained in the FTP directory should be used for intercomparison purposes only.
YYYY 4-digit year
MM 2-digit month
DD 2-digit day
nrt Indicates that data are near-real-time
R Region (n: north; s: south)
CC Channel (19: 19 GHz, 22: 22 GHz, 37: 37 GHz, 85: 85 GHz, or 91:91 GHz)
P Polarization (h: horizontal, v: vertical)
.bin Identifies this as a binary data file

File Size

Distribution size: 200 - 1100 KB

Spatial Coverage

North and south polar regions

Spatial Resolution

The spatial resolution is 25 km for the 19, 22, and 37 GHz channels, and at 12.5 km resolution for the 85 GHz and 91GHz channels.

Temporal Coverage

The data are available from 1 July 1999 to present.

Temporal Resolution

The temporal resolution is daily

Parameter or Variable

Brightness temperature

3. Data Access and Tools

Data Access

Data are available via FTP.

Software and Tools

Table 2 lists the tools that can be used with this data set. For a comprehensive list of all polar stereographic tools and for more information, see the Polar Stereographic Data Tools Web page.

Table 2. Tools for this Data Set
Tool Type Tool File Name(s)
Data Extraction
Data Display dataviewer.tar.gz
Geocoordinate dataviewer.tar.gz
mapll.for and mapxy.for
psn12lats_v3.dat and pss12lats_v3.dat
psn12lons_v3.dat and pss12lons_v3.dat
psn25lats_v3.dat and pss25lats_v3.dat
psn25lons_v3.dat and pss25lons_v3.dat
Pixel-Area psn12area_v3.dat and pss12area_v3.dat
psn25area_v3.dat and pss25area_v3.dat
Land Masks gsfc_12n.msk and gsfc_12s.msk
gsfc_25n.msk and gsfc_25s.msk
Land Overlays coast_12n.msk and coast_12s.msk
coast_25n.msk and coast_25s.msk
ltln_12n.msk and ltln_12s.msk
ltln_25n.msk and ltln_25s.msk

4. Data Acquisition and Processing

The DMSP-F13 satellite that has been central to our brightness temperature products for the past several years is nearing the end of its mission and is no longer a reliable resource for our brightness temperature products. As is standard data practice, we have transitioned to a newer sensor. As of 02 June 2009, NSIDC has switched its SSM/I processing stream from the DMSP-F13 satellite to SSMIS data from the DMSP-F17 satellite. For data continuity, F17 data have been acquired and processed back to 01 April 2008.

One year earlier, on 02 June 2008, NSIDC switched its SSM/I processing stream from the DMSP-F13 satellite to the DMSP-F15 satellite due to a failing recorder on F13. For continuity, F15 data were acquired and processed from 01 January 2008 until 25 February 2009. On 16 February 2009, however, NSIDC switched its SSM/I processing stream back to the DMSP-F13 satellite due to an issue with the DMSP-F15 SSM/I 22 GHz frequency brightness temperature fields. NSIDC continued to produce the F13 products until further degradation of the SSM/I instrument on 11 May 2009. Processed F13 data are available for the 01 July 2008 through 11 May 2009 time period.

However, although you may choose to use data from either the F13 or F15 satellites, NSIDC recommends using these data for intercomparison purposes only. SSMIS data from the DMSP-F17 satellite are used for the current near-real-time product. Regarding the F13 and F15 data, you should be aware of the following differences:

  • Interference with the F15 22 GHz channel from a radar calibration (RADCAL) beacon biasing the F15 brightness temperatures 10 K to 15 K higher than F13.
  • Ascending equatorial crossing time for F15 is 21:10, whereas F13 is 17:42.
  • Minor tie-point adjustments in order to produce near-real-time sea ice fields: Tie-point coefficients were adjusted for F15 to produce total extents consistent with F13 during an overlap period of 01 January 2007 to 31 December 2007. The largest adjustment was to the 22 GHz brightness temperatures to adjust for the RADCAL beacon interference. The tie-point adjustments are considered preliminary at this time, to produce the near-real-time sea ice fields. NASA Goddard will do final inter-sensor calibration and tie-point adjustments.

Regarding the F17 data, users should note a difference in the high frequency channel. The SSMIS sensor is similar to the SSM/I sensor and has the same low frequency channels: dual-polarized 19 GHz and 37 GHz channels, and a vertically polarized 22 GHz channel. However, the high-frequency 85.5 GHz channel on SSM/I has been replaced by a 91 GHz channel on SSMIS. Users should note that the different frequency will affect any products that employ a high frequency channel. Any such products should be evaluated for the impact of the different frequency and adjustments may be necessary for consistent products. For more information regarding the SSMIS instrument, refer to the SSMIS Instrument Description Web page.

Version History

Version 1

Document Creation Date

01 December 1999

Document Revision Date

Document Revisions Dates

  • 20 June 2009
  • 02 June 2009
  • 13 January 2009
  • 08 January 2004

Document URL