icepyx: Python tools for accessing and working with ICESat-2 data

icepyx is a python software library for accessing and working with ICESat-2 data. Acting as a wrapper around Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) supported by the NASA National Snow and Ice Data Center Distributed Active Archive Center (NSIDC DAAC), icepyx enables data acquisition in as few as three lines of code.

icepyx is also a larger project that aims to provide a central repository for code, documentation, data use-cases, tutorials, and educational resources that tackle disciplinary research questions while minimizing the amount of repeated effort across groups utilizing similar datasets. icepyx hopes to foster collaboration, open-science, and reproducible workflows by integrating and sharing resources.

Behind the icepyx project is a community of ICESat-2 data users, developers, scientists, and students. This community is working to develop a shared library of resources that simplify the process of querying, obtaining, analyzing, and manipulating ICESat-2 datasets to enable scientific discovery.

Many of the icepyx tools began as Jupyter Notebooks developed during the cryosphere themed ICESat-2 Hackweek at the University of Washington in June 2019 and as scripts written and used by the ICESat-2 Science Team members. icepyx combines and generalizes these scripts into a unified framework, making them accessible for everyone. icepyx is available for installation via pip or from the GitHub repository. Examples of using icepyx for data access and visualization are available as Jupyter Notebooks.

You can learn more about installing and using icepyx on the project’s website and Github repository.

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NASA DAAC Data Services Now Accessible as an API Endpoint

Are you looking to customize MODIS, GLAS, AMSR-E, or SMAP data? While customization options such as subsetting and reformatting are currently available through the NASA Earthdata Search web application, these services can now be accessed programmatically as a synchronous REST interface.

How does the API work?

Programmatic access to these data services is provided via an HTTPS URL. The programmatic access endpoint contains key-value pairs that utilize the Common Metadata Repository (CMR) to find the requested data, as well as the subsetting, reformatting, and reprojecting services to customize those data. When utilizing this API in a command line environment, the customized output is returned as either a single file or multi-file zip downloaded directly to your machine’s current working directory.

Programmatic access architecture

Architecture of the EOSDIS Service Interface. CMR and data processing services are called via programmatic API access. Source:

Why access data services programmatically?

While the NASA Earthdata Search application provides a comprehensive web-based search and order interface, you may be looking for a more direct access point for customized data. Using the new API feature, these data can now be easily accessed using a variety of approaches including URL transfer protocols (e.g. curl: and MATLAB readers (e.g. In addition, work is currently ongoing to provide OGC Web Coverage Service (WCS) compatibility, enabling data access through WCS-supported software such as ArcGIS, QGIS, and GeoServer.

Where can I learn more?

An overview guide to this API can be found at This guide walks you through the basic steps needed to construct the API, as well as resources to help you determine the customization options available for your data set(s) of interest. Comprehensive documentation provided by the API developers is also available on the Earthdata Developer Portal.

Comments? Concerns? Feedback?

Let us know! Email us at to let us know how we can improve this API.

Join the upcoming webinar for more information about NASA Earthdata Search

NASA’s Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) provides end-to-end capabilities for managing NASA’s Earth science data, including data distributed by the NASA National Snow and Ice Data Center Distributed Active Archive Center (NSIDC DAAC). These data represent some of the most complex and diverse Earth science data sets on the planet from various sources, including satellites, aircraft, field measurements, and numerous other programs within EOSDIS. NASA’s Earthdata Search application connects scientists to their data by making search, discovery, visualization, and access faster and easier than ever. This webinar will take you on a tour of the Earthdata Search application, highlighting key features and functionality. A live demonstration featuring two data use case examples will also be provided.

For more information and to register, please see:

Search and discover NSIDC data sets with our new search tool

How do I differentiate between sea ice data sets? Which ones have file formats that are easy for me to use? How many ice velocity data sets are offered at NSIDC? What are my options for downloading the data? NSIDC has been busily working to develop a Web tool to answer these questions and more. The new Scientific Data Search aims to help you discover the data sets most useful to you.

Scientific Data Search interface

This new tool replaces the previous NSIDC data set search tool. It is recommended for those who would like to explore the breadth of NSIDC’s data holdings.

Using the search tool’s interface, you can find which data sets contain a particular data parameter, such as snow cover, or which data sets were submitted by a specific Principal Investigator. Map and calendar controls also allow you to see which data sets intersect with your custom spatial area or temporal range.

The listing of results is designed to allow for quick scanning. Attributes are clearly displayed to facilitate selection. You can read more about a data set in your results list by clicking on the title, or you can click the ‘Get Data’ button if you are ready to download the data.

The ‘Get Data’ button expands to show you all the various alternatives for downloading or visualizing the data. Those of you who are familiar with the data offerings may appreciate the direct link to the data download directory. Those who are looking for ways to subset the data will find direct access to tools such as Earthdata Search.

Future enhancements to the search tool will allow for results to be narrowed by custom inputs and will allow for better comparison between similar data sets.

Please give the Scientific Data Search a try. We welcome your comments at

Scientific Data Search listing of results

Recent enhancements to the NASA IceBridge Data Portal

The NASA IceBridge Project is comprised of airborne data over the most dynamic areas of the Arctic, Greenland, Alaska and Antarctica. The data gathered by this project are unique in that they are spatially referenced by flight lines, flights are flown during approximately 3-month campaigns, and data are collected by a wide variety of instrumentation.

The NASA IceBridge Data Portal provides a single location from which one can get an overview of all the IceBridge data sets. It allows for map-based visualization of the flight paths via polar views of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.  Using a variety of filters and image overlays, one can visualize, search and download IceBridge data campaigns. NSIDC recently added some new capabilities to the IceBridge Data Portal. These new features include:

– A simpler display which allows users to hide and move informational windows

– The ability to filter results by selecting one or more instruments

– A tar-on-the-fly option for downloading complete directories of data at once

– New map layers for enhanced visualization including:

  • Mosaic of Greenland (MOG)
  • Shaded Relief DEM
  • MEaSUREs Velocity Map
  • Mosaic of Antarctica (MOA)
  • Antarctic Bedrock DEM
  • Radarsat Antarctic Mapping Project (RAMP)

Begin your search for IceBridge data through the newly improved NASA IceBridge Data Portal.