Knowledge Base

How do I convert NSIDC-0051 sea-ice concentration data from binary to GeoTIFF?

You will first need to have GDAL installed on your system before proceeding on to the following steps. NSIDC User Services is not able to provide support for installing GDAL, but we have found using a package manager such as MacPorts ( simplifies the installation process on a Mac. There are additional package managers available for Linux users.

1. Using a text editor, create an ENVI header file with the following information (do not use the double spacing seen here):

description = {nt_20151231_f17_v1.1_n.bin}
samples = 304
lines   = 448
bands   = 1
header offset = 300
file type = ENVI Standard
data type = 1
interleave = bsq
byte order = 0
map info = {Polar Stereographic, 1, 1, -3850000, 5850000, 25000, 25000} projection info = {31, 6378273, 6356889.449, 70, -45, 0, 0, Polar Stereographic} coordinate system string = {PROJCS["Stereographic_North_Pole",GEOGCS["GCS_unnamed ellipse",DATUM["D_unknown",SPHEROID["Unknown",6378273,298.279411123064]],PRIMEM["Greenwich",0],UNIT["Degree",0.017453292519943295]],PROJECTION["Stereographic_North_Pole"],PARAMETER["standard_parallel_1",70],PARAMETER["central_meridian",-45],PARAMETER["false_easting",0],PARAMETER["false_northing",0],UNIT["Meter",1]]}
​band names = {Band 1}

2. Change the file name on the 2nd line to be the name of the file you are converting.

3. To save the header file, use the exact same file name as the data file you are converting, but add .hdr on the end.

The above example is saved as nt_20151231_f17_v1.1_n.bin.hdr

4. Make sure your working directory is the same as the directory your data file is in and issue the following GDAL command

gdal_translate -of GTiff -a_srs '+proj=stere +lat_0=90 +lat_ts=70 +lon_0=-45 +k=1 +x_0=0 +y_0=0 +a=6378273 +b=6356889.449 +units=m 
+no_defs' -a_nodata 255 -A_ullr -3850000.0 5850000.0 3750000.0 -5350000.0 <name of input binary file> <output.tif>

Congrats! Your data should now be converted to *.tif.

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