Can I access NSIDC data using an API or FTP?

The answer is yes! There are several ways to programmatically access NSIDC data products and metadata using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). We also provide the ability to access data using an FTP client. To determine whether these methods are available for a specific data set, please visit the data set landing page you are interested in working with.


This API can be used with some NSIDC DAAC data products. OPeNDAP allows you to access data using an OPeNDAP URL of any database server that supports OPeNDAP. You can do this via command-line, Internet browser, or a custom UI. You can also use other NetCDF compliant tools, such as Matlab, R, IDL, IDV, and Panoply. The DAP server developed by the OPeNDAP group and used by the NASA NSIDC DAAC, called Hyrax, supports access to georeferenced gridded scientific data represented as arrays of cells arranged in rows and columns, and in NetCDF, GeoTIFF, JPEG2000, JSON, ASCII, and DAP2 (binary) formats. Data can be reformatted as NetCDF-3, NetCDF-4, ASCII, and DAP2 (binary) formats.

OPeNDAP stands for Open-source Project for a Network Data Access Protocol, which is both the developer of the client/server software and the name of the software. The OPeNDAP group is also the original developer of the Data Access Protocol (DAP) that the software uses. Many other groups have adopted DAP and provide compatible clients, servers, and SDKs. OPeNDAP’s DAP is a NASA community standard that enables scientists to share data more easily over the internet. Note that an EarthData user account is required to access NASA data sets using OPeNDAP.

NSIDC DAAC Data Access and Service API

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 this API which offers you the ability to order data using specific temporal and spatial filters, as well as subset, reformat, and reproject select data sets. NSIDC provides basic command line Wget and curl instructions for HTTPS file system downloads below, as well as API guidance, including a Jupyter Notebook to construct and download your data request. Note that an EarthData user account is required to access NASA data sets using this API.

NSIDC Data Map Services API

The NSIDC Data Map Services Application Programming Interface (API) provides HTTP URLs for requesting geo-registered map images from NSIDC's geospatial database. A WMS request defines the geographic layer(s) and area of interest to be processed. The response to the request is one geo-registered map image returned as a PNG 24bit, PNG 8bit, GIF, JPEG, or JPEG-PNG that can be displayed in a browser. You can also obtain a Keyhole Markup Language (KML) image to view in Google Earth, and a Geography Markup Language (GML) XML grammar file through a WFS request. Note that an EarthData user account is required to access NASA data sets using this API.

FTP Access to NSIDC Data

Users can access NOAA@NSIDC data products as well as ELOKA data products using an FTP client. Using FTP allows users to see a directory structure to browse and download data. We also provide instructions for how to work with our FTP directory using the command line, wget and Python.