Knowledge Base

How do I convert NSIDC-0051 sea-ice concentration data from binary to GeoTIFF?

You will first need to have GDAL installed on your system before proceeding on to the following steps. NSIDC User Services is not able to provide support for installing GDAL, but we have found using a package manager such as MacPorts (https://guide.macports.org/) simplifies the installation process on a Mac. There are additional package managers available for Linux users.

1. Using a text editor, create an ENVI header file (.hdr) with the exact same file name as the data file you are converting, for example:
nt_20151231_f17_v01_n.bin.hdr

2a. For a Northern Hemisphere data file, the header file should contain the following information (do not use the double spacing seen here):

ENVI
description = {data file}
samples = 304
lines   = 448
bands   = 1
header offset = 300
file type = ENVI Standard
data type = 1
interleave = bsq
byte order = 0
map info = {Polar Stereographic, 1, 1, -3850000, 5850000, 25000, 25000} projection info = {31, 6378273, 6356889.449, 70, -45, 0, 0, Polar Stereographic} coordinate system string = {PROJCS["Stereographic_North_Pole",GEOGCS["GCS_unnamed ellipse",DATUM["D_unknown",SPHEROID["Unknown",6378273,298.279411123064]],PRIMEM["Greenwich",0],UNIT["Degree",0.017453292519943295]],PROJECTION["Stereographic_North_Pole"],PARAMETER["standard_parallel_1",70],PARAMETER["central_meridian",-45],PARAMETER["false_easting",0],PARAMETER["false_northing",0],UNIT["Meter",1]]} ​band names = {Band 1}

2b. For a Southern Hemisphere data file, the header filer should contain the following information (do not use the double spacing seen here):

ENVI
description = {data file}
samples = 304
lines   = 448
bands   = 1
header offset = 300
file type = ENVI Standard
data type = 1
interleave = bsq
byte order = 0
map info = {Polar Stereographic, 1, 1, -3950000, 4350000, 25000, 25000} projection info = {31, 6378273, 6356889.449,  70, 0, 0, 0, Polar Stereographic} coordinate system string =  PROJCS["Stereographic_South_Pole",GEOGCS["GCS_unnamed ellipse",DATUM["D_unknown",SPHEROID["Unknown",6378273,298.279411123064]],PRIMEM["Greenwich",0],UNIT["Degree",0.017453292519943295]],PROJECTION["Stereographic_South_Pole"],PARAMETER["standard_parallel_1",-70],PARAMETER["central_meridian",0],PARAMETER["false_easting",0],PARAMETER["false_northing",0],UNIT["Meter",1]]}
​band names = {Band 1}

3. Change the file name on the 2nd line to be the name of the file you are converting, for example:

description = {nt_20151231_f17_v01_n.bin}

4a. For the Northern Hemisphere, make sure your working directory is the same as the directory your data file is in and issue the following GDAL command:

gdal_translate -of GTiff -a_srs '+proj=stere +lat_0=90 +lat_ts=70 +lon_0=-45 +k=1 +x_0=0 +y_0=0 +a=6378273 +b=6356889.449 +units=m +no_defs' -a_nodata 255 -A_ullr -3850000.0 5850000.0 3750000.0 -5350000.0 <name of input binary file> <output.tif>

4b. For the Southern Hemisphere, make sure your working directory is the same as the directory your data file is in and issue the following GDAL command:

gdal_translate -of GTiff -a_srs '+proj=stere +lat_0=-90 +lat_ts=-70 +lon_0=0 +k=1 +x_0=0 +y_0=0 +a=6378273 +b=6356889.449 +units=m +no_defs' -a_nodata 255 -A_ullr -3950000.0 4350000.0 3950000.0 -3950000.0 <name of input binary file> <output.tif>

Congrats! Your data should now be converted to *.tif.

Last Updated October 2019