Getting ICEsat and ICESat-2 data


  • Product information in the upper right describes the types of data.  You probably want ATL08: ATLAS/ICESat-2 L3A Land and Vegetation Height.
  • Select a region, using the button on the upper left
  • Click on the track you want.
  • Pick the date from those available
  • Insure that the points on the desired profile appear; it is easy to leave them with the past profile
  • Click in the region, on the highlighted orbit, and click on one of the dates which should trigger the display of some of the points, and then view ATL08 elevation profile from the popup menu. 
    • You want to use the section of the form with the red rectangles on the screen capture to the left.
    • Insure that you have gotten a new track.  The program tends to retain the same track, especially if you did not pick the track with the date option.  The track number will be on the title for the graph. The track will also be in the files names, after the date
    • Insure you are downloading the Elevation Profile (ATL08), and not the ATL06 (Land Ice Surface) or  ATL12 (Ocean Surface) or the ATL13 (inland waters).  If you get these, you will have to do a lot of manipulation with the data to make it workable.  Which of the products appear depends on the location.  The Red X's shows where you do not want to download data if you are looking for elevations on land.
    • The track will not be in the download file names, but is inside the CSV data.
    • If there are multiple dates, you can switch among them on the top of the form.
    • The 3D viewer option below can be useful
    • All 6 beams will be in the same download file; you can Filter to only display one beam; if you zoom in, you will see the separate ground tracks.  This will show the ground and the top of the canopy, and uncertainty estimates.
  • You can also view the ATL02  photons (which leads to much larger data sets)
    • Pick the tab above the graph to switch between photons and elevations
    • Each beam will be a separate download.  The beam name will be in the xml metadata file.
    • There is a confidence value, 0-4, for Noise, Buffer, Low, Medium, High
    • The 3D viewer option below can be useful, but may be slow with the volume of data to display
    • Icesat-2 photon data to LAS which will transfrom to geoid, and can merge multiple input files
  • Data volumes can be large, and consider the area needed carefully.  Excel might choke on some of the files, but MICRODEM should be able to use them.
  • Heights will be on WGS84 ellipsoid.
  • Prep the data


  • Click select a region button on the upper left of the left.
  • Draw a box
  • Pick Download data as a CSV file
  • All data in the box will be downloaded.  You can Filter on the TRACK or CAMPAIGN. If you combine these two fields into a single string field, you can get profiles
  • There will be a single elevation at each point
  • Data volume will be small, so you can pick fairly large areas.
  • There is no metdata, just the CSV
  • Elevations are referenced to Topex/Poseidon/Jason ellipsoid, which is close to the WGS84 ellipsoid
  • Prep the data


Prep the ICESat-2 data

Last revision 2/5/2023