How can I view AMSR-E data?

Note: These instructions do not apply to the Level-2B Soil Moisture data.

First, you can open AMSR-E data automatically with ENVI, which handles the HDF-EOS data format by selecting the variable you want to view, for example, 6.9V_Res.1_TB. (NSIDC performed these steps with ENVI 3.6 using example parameters from Level-2A data).

Otherwise, we suggest a free utility called hdp created by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) for dumping HDF data to binary format. Visit the HDF Group for more information. This utility can also extract the header information to a text file so that you can easily view the variables in the data and their associated attributes.

You can then search the header information for the particular variable you are interested in viewing, for example, 6.9V_Res.1_TB, to view attributes associated with that variable. The dimensions of this attribute are listed as Dim0, which is the number of lines (y dimension), and Dim1, which is the number of samples or scans (x dimension). Example values are 2001 and 243 for the 6.9V_Res.1_TB variable. All of the data except for the 89 GHz have 243 scan pixels, but the 89 GHz data have 486 scan pixels. The data type of the variable is also listed as an attribute, for example, 16-bit signed integer. You can then use this information to view the binary output of this variable, extracted using the hdp utility mentioned above, using ENVI, ERDAS IMAGINE, or any other image viewing application. Note the scaling factor of 0.01 and offset of 327.679993 to convert the binary image values to brightness temperature units of kelvin. This scaling factor and offset are also listed in the variable's attributes, as Tb_scale and Tb_offset.

Complete guide documentation is available for all data sets. In particular, the Format section of each guide document describes the contents of the data. Also visit HDF-EOS Tools and Information for additional tools to read HDF-EOS data.