For a list of known issues with this product, see the Known Issues document under the Technical References tab.
Data Set ID: 

ATLAS/ICESat-2 L3A Land and Vegetation Height, Version 4

This data set (ATL08) contains along-track heights above the WGS84 ellipsoid (ITRF2014 reference frame) for the ground and canopy surfaces. The canopy and ground surfaces are processed in fixed 100 m data segments, which typically contain more than 100 signal photons. The data were acquired by the Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS) instrument on board the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) observatory.

There is a more recent version of these data.

Version Summary: 

Changes for this version include:

  • Used PPD flag of ATL03, degraded POD/PPD solutions were flagged and ignored in the ATL08 algorithm.
  • To reduce the amount of cloud contamination in the ATL08 signal photons, all photons from 120 m or more above the reference DEM are considered clouds.
  • Added a saturation flag to the ATL08 data product that is based on the ATL03 saturation flags. The ATL08 saturation flag indicates that a segment within 100 m is saturated –likely due to water.
  • Included a ph_h parameter to the photon group reflecting the height of each photon above the estimated ground surface.
  • Changed calculation of absolute canopy heights and height metrics.
  • Expanded the canopy height metrics to every 5% ranging from 5 – 95%.
  • Removed the Landsat canopy cover check in the algorithm as this check was preventing canopy from being detected in areas with low canopy cover (e.g. savannas) even though reflected photons from woody vegetation are observed at the photon level.
  • Changed the search radius parameter from 15 m to 100 m for the initial top of canopy determination in an effort to pull in more, previously missed, top of canopy photons.
  • Incorporated the quality_ph flag of the ATL03 product which should exclude many after-pulsing events from the ATL08 algorithm. The after-pulsing events are due to detector saturation and other detector events and over land they occur over water bodies such as wetlands, rivers, etc. This should result in a more accurate surface representation particularly for wetlands where standing water is often found.
  • Added the calculation of the photon rates for terrain and canopy points. The addition of these parameters will improve future radiometry studies.
  • LANDSCAPE > Canopy Height
Data Format(s):
  • HDF5
Spatial Coverage:
N: 90, 
S: -90, 
E: 180, 
W: -180
Spatial Resolution:
  • Varies
Temporal Coverage:
  • 14 October 2018 to 15 July 2021
Temporal Resolution91 dayMetadata XML:View Metadata Record
Data Contributor(s):Amy Neuenschwander, Katherine Pitts, Benjamin Jelley, John Robbins, Brad Klotz, Sorin Popescu, Ross Nelson, David Harding, Dylan Pederson

Geographic Coverage

No access options.

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.

Neuenschwander, A. L., K. L. Pitts, B. P. Jelley, J. Robbins, B. Klotz, S. C. Popescu, R. F. Nelson, D. Harding, D. Pederson, and R. Sheridan. 2021. ATLAS/ICESat-2 L3A Land and Vegetation Height, Version 4. [Indicate subset used]. Boulder, Colorado USA. NASA National Snow and Ice Data Center Distributed Active Archive Center. doi: [Date Accessed].

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