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 sets are accessible from NASA's 12 science-oriented Distributed Active Archive Centers (DAACs), including the NSIDC DAAC. The NSIDC DAAC distributes several hundred data sets in NASA Earthdata Search, many with customization options. This article outlines the NSIDC DAAC data sets with customization options and further describes how to search, order, and customize data in NASA Earthdata Search. 

Step 1: Determine the services enabled for your data set(s) of interest

The subsetting, reformatting, and reprojection options apply to AMSR-E, ICESat-2, ICESat/GLAS, MODIS, SMAP, and VIIRS data and are unique to each data set. 

The following list shows overview of customizations provided for each collection: 

  1. SMAP
  2. MODIS
  3. ICESat-2
  4. ICESat/GLAS
  5. AMSR-E
  6. VIIRS

Step 2: Access NASA Earthdata Search

You can get to NASA Earthdata Search on the internet at NASA does require that you set up a free Earthdata account to access the data.

Step 3: Search for a data set 

Search for a data set in the search box by entering specific key terms such as a mission (e.g. Terra), an instrument (e.g. MODIS), a data set (e.g. NSIDC-0481), and/or science parameter (e.g. snow cover).


Temporal Filtering

If you are interested in filtering the data set by a time period, click on the Temporal filter button located on the top left side of the page, and populate the Start and End boxes to specify the beginning and end dates of interest.
For example, a temporal filter for NSIDC-0481 ranging from 12 June 2008 to 12 June 2009 is applied below. 


Spatial Filtering

If you are interested in filtering the data set by region of interest, click the Spatial filter, located next to the temporal filter (on the top left side of the page). You will see several options for filtering such as Polygon, Rectangle, Point, Circle, and File.

In the example below, the Rectangle option is used to specify Southwest and Northeast coordinates corresponding to Greenland for NSIDC-0481.

For best results, enter a bounding box of at least 0.5° x 0.5°. 

Click on a collection to view the matching science granules.

Step 4:  Filter and view results of data search

Once the dataset of interest is selected, additional granule filters can be applied if needed (e.g. cloud cover, equatorial crossing time, orbit number, etc.). ​When available, browse imagery can also be viewed by clicking an image. 
Individual granules can be downloaded or removed by clicking on the download arrow or +/- icons, respectively. The number of selected granules will be shown in the green Download button at the lower right side corner of the results window.

Using Wildcards to refine data search

The use of wildcards can be applied to search and filter by filenames:

  • Use ? (question mark) to match any one character. 
  • Use * (asterisk) to match any number of characters in the filename. 
  • Delimiters (space, comma, or new line) can be used to search on multiple files.

For example, to search all granules in NSIDC-0481 grid W69.10N use *W69.10N* in the Granule Search box. To add all granules in grid E68.80N to the same search use *W69.10N*, *E68.80N*.    



Step 5: Customize and order data

Click on the Download Data button and sign in to NASA Earthdata Search or register for a new account. Once on the ordering page, you can choose the preferred data access method. The example below shows available access options for data sets, like NSIDC-0481, with no customization services.


An additional Customize option will be available for datasets with customization services. For a full list of these datasets, refer to the list at the top of the page.  


Select all desirable customization options and click on Done and Download DataThe example below shows customizations available for the data set MOD10A1.


Options to reformat from the native format to other format types such as GeoTIFF, NetCDF4-CF, and ASCII are available for data sets with customization services. Available format options vary for different data sets. 


Spatial Subsetting

Select the checkbox 'Click to enable' to enable the bounding box. These coordinate values autofill from the spatial filter you defined in the previous step.


Reprojection & Resampling

Reprojection options also vary for different datasets. Not all data sets with customization services include resampling. 


Band Subsetting

Band subsetting is a good option for reducing download size. Note that requesting GeoTIFF reformatting will result in a GeoTIFF file for each chosen parameter. 



Step 6: Retrieve data

When the data order is submitted, order status emails are sent to the user. The Download Status page also provides this information. Once the order has completed, download the data with the links provided in the email or on the Download Status page. 

For questions about customization options and NSIDC data, please contact

For additional instructions on using NASA Earthdata Search, visit the Getting Started page on the Earthdata website.

Last updated: Dec 22, 2021