For a list of known issues with this product, see the Known Issues document under the Technical References tab.
On Wednesday, August 5th between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. (USA Mountain Time), the following data collections may not be available due to planned system maintenance: AMSR-E, Aquarius, High Mountain Asia, IceBridge, ICESat/GLAS, MEaSUREs, MODIS, NISE, SMAP, and VIIRS.
Data Set ID:

ATLAS/ICESat-2 L3A Land Ice Height, Version 3

This data set (ATL06) provides geolocated, land-ice surface heights (above the WGS 84 ellipsoid, ITRF2014 reference frame), plus ancillary parameters that can be used to interpret and assess the quality of the height estimates. 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.

This is the most recent version of these data.

Version Summary:

Changes for this version include:

  • ATL09 pass-through data (cloud flag parameters) are now being written to ATL06 (gt[x]/land_ice_segments/geophysical/layer_flag). Note that if two flags intersect an ATL06 segment, the higher flag value is used. The layer_flag parameter is important for predicting forward scattering.
  • The large DEMs previously used by ATL06 are no longer required inputs. If they are provided in the processing control file, the values are queried as in previous releases; if the DEMs are not provided in the control file, DEM values from ATL03 are used.
  • Molecular transmission used to compute effective background is now being read from ATL09. Prior versions used a default value.
  • Added radial orbit error as gt[x]/land_ice_segments/ground_track/sigma_geo_r (parameter sigma_h from ATL03).
  • ATL03 data flagged with non-zero values in podppd_flag are no longer processed for ATL06. This criteria ensures that land ice data are created only from ATL03 data that are accurately geolocated and eliminates most ATL06 data that in prior versions contained substantial correlated errors.
  • Changed the residual histograms to range from -50m to +50m with varying bin sizes. Residual histogram bins that are not fully encompassed by at least one of the two possible telemetry band range windows are marked as invalid. These larger histograms encompass the full potential vertical range of forward-scattering returns below the surface and allow sampling of backscatter from blowing snow above the surface.
  • Corrected the long names for sigma_geo_at and sigma_geo_xt in the ATL06 file metadata.
  • Residual histograms are centered on h_mean instead of h_li. Centering the histogram on the mean, rather than the median, yields a better representation of the segment-to-segment statistics for the residuals.

COMPREHENSIVE Level of Service

Data: Data integrity and usability verified; data customization services available for select data

Documentation: Key metadata and comprehensive user guide available

User Support: Assistance with data access and usage; guidance on use of data in tools and data customization services

See All Level of Service Details

Data Format(s):
  • HDF5
Spatial Coverage:
N: 90, 
S: -90, 
E: 180, 
W: -180
Spatial Resolution:
  • 20 m
Temporal Coverage:
  • 14 October 2018
Temporal Resolution91 dayMetadata XML:View Metadata Record
Data Contributor(s):Ben Smith, Helen Fricker, Alex Gardner, Matthew Siegfried, Susheel Adusumilli, et al

Geographic Coverage

Other Access Options

Other 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.

Smith, B., H. A. Fricker, A. Gardner, M. R. Siegfried, S. Adusumilli, B. M. Csathó, N. Holschuh, J. Nilsson, F. S. Paolo, and the ICESat-2 Science Team. 2020. ATLAS/ICESat-2 L3A Land Ice Height, Version 3. [Indicate subset used]. Boulder, Colorado USA. NASA National Snow and Ice Data Center Distributed Active Archive Center. doi: [Date Accessed].

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How To

Programmatic Data Access Guide
Data from the NASA National Snow and Ice Data Center Distributed Active Archive Center (NSIDC DAAC) can be accessed directly from our HTTPS file system or through our Application Programming Interface (API). Our API offers you the ability to order data using specific temporal and spatial filters... read more
ICESat, IceBridge, and ICESat-2: A primer on data access across the three missions
This guide will provide an overview of the altimetry measurements and data sets across the missions, as well as a guide for accessing the data through NASA Earthdata Search and programmatically using an Application Programming Interface (API). Overview  The NASA ICESat, Operation IceBridge,... read more
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This webinar introduces the ICESat-2 mission and shows you how to explore, access and customize ICESat-2 data with the OpenAltimetry application, using NSIDC DAAC tools, and shows you how to subset, reformat and analyze the data using Python. This webinar was originally presented on July 23, 2019... read more
Search, order, and customize NSIDC DAAC data with NASA Earthdata Search
NASA Earthdata Search is a map-based interface where a user can search for Earth science data, filter results based on spatial and temporal constraints, and order data with customizations including re-formatting, re-projecting, and spatial and parameter subsetting. Thousands of Earth science data... read more
Filter and order from a data set web page
Many NSIDC data set web pages provide the ability to search and filter data with spatial and temporal contstraints using a map-based interface. This article outlines how to order NSIDC DAAC data using advanced searching and filtering.  Step 1: Go to a data set web page This article will use the... read more


What subsetting and reformatting services are available for ICESat-2 data?
The following table describes the subsetting and reformatting services that are currently available for ICESat-2 data via the NASA Earthdata Search tool, along with... read more
How do I convert an HDF5/HDF-EOS5 file into binary format?
To convert HDF5 files into binary format you will need to use the h5dump utility, which is part of the HDF5 distribution available from the HDF Group. How you install HDF5 depends on your operating system. Full instructions for installing and using h5dump on Mac/Unix and... read more