Accessing via Map Libraries and Scripts

There are several freely-available map libraries available to help build your own interface to explore NASA's Global Imagery Browse Services (GIBS) visualizations. The information on this page provides instructions for the following libraries:

Additionally, information regarding bulk downloading is also provided here.


Web-based Map Libraries

Please see our "GIBS Web Examples" GitHub area for code samples and live demos of using popular web mapping libraries (e.g., OpenLayers, Cesium, Mapbox GL) with GIBS. Below is a screen capture of a barebones GIBS client based on the OpenLayers mapping library.

OpenLayers Example


GDAL

The Geospatial Data Abstraction Library (GDAL) can be used as a basis to generate imagery from custom scripts. Its WMS driver supports several internal 'minidrivers' that allow access to different web mapping services. Each of these services may support a different set of options in the Service block. Documentation for these minidrivers can be found in the GDAL WMS documentation area. Two of these minidrivers in particular can be used by users to download GIBS imagery programmatically. They are the Tile Map Specification (TMS) and the OnEarth Tiled WMS (TiledWMS) minidrivers. Examples for both of these minidrivers are included below.

Requirements

GDAL version 1.9.1 or greater with cURL support enabled. To check if cURL is enabled for GDAL, type gdalinfo --format WMS. If cURL is enabled, you will see information about the WMS format. If not, you will get an error message and you will need to reconfigure GDAL to support cURL.


Basic Usage

This section provides basic examples of both the TiledWMS and WMS GDAL drivers. The information needed to create the local service description XML can be found in the following GIBS WMTS Capabilities documents:

Projection Name GIBS WMTS "Best Available" Capabilities document
Geographic https://gibs.earthdata.nasa.gov/wmts/epsg4326/best/1.0.0/WMTSCapabilities.xml
NSIDC Sea Ice Polar Stereographic North https://gibs.earthdata.nasa.gov/wmts/epsg3413/best/1.0.0/WMTSCapabilities.xml
Antarctic Polar Stereographic https://gibs.earthdata.nasa.gov/wmts/epsg3031/best/1.0.0/WMTSCapabilities.xml
Web Mercator https://gibs.earthdata.nasa.gov/wmts/epsg3857/best/1.0.0/WMTSCapabilities.xml

Note

In very limited testing, our experience has been that better image quality is obtained by using the GeoTIFF output format, then converting this to other formats, if desired, using a second gdal_translate command (seen below), or other programs such as ImageMagick convert. gdal_translate -of JPEG GreatPlainsSmoke2.tif GreatPlainsSmoke2.jpg

TiledWMS Driver

The TiledWMS GDAL minidriver relies on a simple XML configuration block (see example below) from the user, pulling all other information from the GIBS Tiled Web Map Service (TWMS) "Tile Service" document at runtime.

<GDAL_WMS>
  <Service name="TiledWMS">
    <ServerUrl>https://gibs.earthdata.nasa.gov/twms/epsg4326/best/twms.cgi?</ServerUrl>
    <TiledGroupName>MODIS Aqua CorrectedReflectance TrueColor tileset</TiledGroupName>
    <Change key="${time}">2013-08-21</Change>
  </Service>
</GDAL_WMS>

In the above XML block, the following values may be changed to meet your needs:

  • Server Url - Set the ServerUrl to a value of {Endpoint Root}/twms.cgi?, where the endpoint root is defined in this table.
    • e.g. https://gibs.earthdata.nasa.gov/twms/epsg4326/best/twms.cgi?
  • Tiled Group Name - When accessing visualizations through TWMS, the TiledGroupName value is utilized instead of the layers identifier. The TiledGroupName can be generated by replacing all underscores in a visualization's Identifier with spaces and appending " tileset". For example:
    • Identifier - MODIS_Aqua_CorrectedReflectance_TrueColor
    • Tiled Group Name - MODIS Aqua CorrectedReflectance TrueColor tileset
  • Time - Insert the date (e.g. 2013-08-21) or datetime (e.g. 2013-08-21T00:00:00Z) you are requesting.

The following examples demonstrate how to invoke the GDAL TiledWMS driver.

#1 - Configuration File Input

In this example, the following XML file is created and saved to your local file system. Then the gdal_translate command shown below is run with your desired area of interest and output dimensions.

<GDAL_WMS>
  <Service name="TiledWMS">
    <ServerUrl>https://gibs.earthdata.nasa.gov/twms/epsg4326/best/twms.cgi?</ServerUrl>
    <TiledGroupName>MODIS Aqua CorrectedReflectance TrueColor tileset</TiledGroupName>
    <Change key="${time}">2013-08-21</Change>
  </Service>
</GDAL_WMS>
gdal_translate -of GTiff -outsize 1200 1000 -projwin -105 42 -93 32 GIBS_Aqua_MODIS_true.xml GreatPlainsSmoke1.tif
#2 - "TiledWMS" Driver Command Line Input

This example invokes gdal_translate with the content of the TileWMS local service description XML file embedded as a command line argument. This approach is useful for automated scripting to download various layers, dates, etc. To generate the same image as the previous example, run the following:

gdal_translate -of GTiff -outsize 1200 1000 -projwin -105 42 -93 32 '<GDAL_WMS><Service name="TiledWMS"><ServerUrl>https://gibs.earthdata.nasa.gov/twms/epsg4326/best/twms.cgi?</ServerUrl><TiledGroupName>MODIS Aqua CorrectedReflectance TrueColor tileset</TiledGroupName><Change key="${time}">2013-08-21</Change></Service></GDAL_WMS>' GreatPlainsSmoke2.tif

"TMS Driver"

The TMS GDAL minidriver relies on a more complex XML configuration block (see example below) from the user that defines all information required for accessing a tiled visualization service.

    <GDAL_WMS>
        <Service name="TMS">
        <ServerUrl>https://gibs.earthdata.nasa.gov/wmts/epsg4326/best/MODIS_Aqua_CorrectedReflectance_TrueColor/default/2013-08-21/250m/${z}/${y}/${x}.jpg</ServerUrl>
        </Service>
        <DataWindow>
            <UpperLeftX>-180.0</UpperLeftX>
            <UpperLeftY>90</UpperLeftY>
            <LowerRightX>396.0</LowerRightX>
            <LowerRightY>-198</LowerRightY>
            <TileLevel>8</TileLevel>
            <TileCountX>2</TileCountX>
            <TileCountY>1</TileCountY>
            <YOrigin>top</YOrigin>
        </DataWindow>
        <Projection>EPSG:4326</Projection>
        <BlockSizeX>512</BlockSizeX>
        <BlockSizeY>512</BlockSizeY>
        <BandsCount>3</BandsCount>
    </GDAL_WMS>

In the above XML block, the following values may be changed to meet your needs:

  • <ServerUrl>https://gibs.earthdata.nasa.gov/wmts/epsgcode/best/layer_name/default/date/resolution/${z}/${y}/${x}.format</ServerUrl>
    • layer_name - use the layer's "Identifier" from the relevant GIBS WMTS GetCapabilities document. Note that only one layer can be retrieved per gdal_translate call.
    • date - use the desired date in YYYY-MM-DD format
    • epsgcode - use "epsg" followed by the appropriate EPSG code as defined in this table.
    • resolution - use the layer's "TileMatrixSet" value from the relevant GIBS WMTS GetCapabilities document
    • format - use jpg or png extension based on the "Format"
  • Bounding box - use -180.0, 90, 396.0, -198 for Geographic projection and -4194304, 4194304, 4194304, -4194304 for the Polar projections
  • <TileLevel> - select from the table below based on "Resolution" and "Projection". Note that the TileLevel in the table below is the maximum for that resolution. You can specify a lower value of TileLevel to force GDAL to use coarser resolution input tiles. This can be used to speed up projection, for example during development and testing.
Resolution TileLevel (Geographic) TileLevel (Polar) Resolution (Web Mercator) Tile Level (Web Mercator)
2km 5 2 GoogleMapsCompatible_Level6 6
1km 6 3 GoogleMapsCompatible_Level7 7
500m 7 4 GoogleMapsCompatible_Level8 8
250m 8 5 GoogleMapsCompatible_Level9 9
125m 9 - GoogleMapsCompatible_Level10 10
62.5m 10 - GoogleMapsCompatible_Level11 11
31.25m 11 - GoogleMapsCompatible_Level12 12
15.625m 12 - GoogleMapsCompatible_Level3 13
  • <TileCountX><TileCountY> - use 2, 1 for Geographic projection and 2, 2 for Polar projections
  • <Projection> - use the appropriate EPSG code as described in the above "epsgcode" table
  • <Bands> - use 3 for .jpg (except use 1 for ASTER_GDEM_Greyscale_Shaded_Relief) and 4 for .png

Note

The values for <YOrigin>, <BlockSizeX>, and <BlockSizeY> are constant for all GIBS layers.

The following examples demonstrate how to invoke the GDAL TMS driver.

#1 - Configuration File Input

Create a local service description XML file and invoke gdal_translate. In this example, GIBS_Aqua_MODIS_true.xml is used to generate a true color JPEG image from Aqua MODIS of a smoke plume from western fires over the central United States. The contents of GIBS_Aqua_MODIS_true.xml would be:

    <GDAL_WMS>
        <Service name="TMS">
        <ServerUrl>https://gibs.earthdata.nasa.gov/wmts/epsg4326/best/MODIS_Aqua_CorrectedReflectance_TrueColor/default/2013-08-21/250m/${z}/${y}/${x}.jpg</ServerUrl>
        </Service>
        <DataWindow>
            <UpperLeftX>-180.0</UpperLeftX>
            <UpperLeftY>90</UpperLeftY>
            <LowerRightX>396.0</LowerRightX>
            <LowerRightY>-198</LowerRightY>
            <TileLevel>8</TileLevel>
            <TileCountX>2</TileCountX>
            <TileCountY>1</TileCountY>
            <YOrigin>top</YOrigin>
        </DataWindow>
        <Projection>EPSG:4326</Projection>
        <BlockSizeX>512</BlockSizeX>
        <BlockSizeY>512</BlockSizeY>
        <BandsCount>3</BandsCount>
    </GDAL_WMS>
    gdal_translate -of GTiff -outsize 1200 1000 -projwin -105 42 -93 32 GIBS_Aqua_MODIS_true.xml GreatPlainsSmoke1.tif
#2 - "TMS" Driver Command Line Input

Invoke gdal_translate with the content of the local service description XML file embedded into the command. This approach is useful for automated scripting to download various layers, dates, etc. To generate the same image as above:

gdal_translate -of GTiff -outsize 1200 1000 -projwin -105 42 -93 32 '<GDAL_WMS><Service name="TMS"><ServerUrl>https://gibs.earthdata.nasa.gov/wmts/epsg4326/best/MODIS_Aqua_CorrectedReflectance_TrueColor/default/2013-08-21/250m/${z}/${y}/${x}.jpg</ServerUrl></Service><DataWindow><UpperLeftX>-180.0</UpperLeftX><UpperLeftY>90</UpperLeftY><LowerRightX>396.0</LowerRightX><LowerRightY>-198</LowerRightY><TileLevel>8</TileLevel><TileCountX>2</TileCountX><TileCountY>1</TileCountY><YOrigin>top</YOrigin></DataWindow><Projection>EPSG:4326</Projection><BlockSizeX>512</BlockSizeX><BlockSizeY>512</BlockSizeY><BandsCount>3</BandsCount></GDAL_WMS>' GreatPlainsSmoke2.tif

Advanced Usage

TMS Driver Configuration File Input w/ Transparent PNG

In this example, GIBS_OMI_AI.xml is used to generate a transparent PNG image from the OMI Aerosol Index over the same region as the first two examples. The "Layer Name on Server" and EPSG/resolution in <ServerURL>, the <TileLevel>, and the <BandsCount> have changed from the first examples. The contents of GIBS_OMI_AI.xml would be:

<GDAL_WMS>
    <Service name="TMS">
        <ServerUrl>https://gibs.earthdata.nasa.gov/wmts/epsg4326/best/OMI_Aerosol_Index/default/2013-08-21/2km/${z}/${y}/${x}.png</ServerUrl>
    </Service>
    <DataWindow>
        <UpperLeftX>-180.0</UpperLeftX>
        <UpperLeftY>90</UpperLeftY>
        <LowerRightX>396.0</LowerRightX>
        <LowerRightY>-198</LowerRightY>
        <TileLevel>5</TileLevel>
        <TileCountX>2</TileCountX>
        <TileCountY>1</TileCountY>
        <YOrigin>top</YOrigin>
    </DataWindow>
    <Projection>EPSG:4326</Projection>
    <BlockSizeX>512</BlockSizeX>
    <BlockSizeY>512</BlockSizeY>
    <BandsCount>4</BandsCount>
</GDAL_WMS>
gdal_translate -of GTiff -outsize 1200 1000 -projwin -105 42 -93 32 GIBS_OMI_AI.xml GreatPlainsSmokeAI.tif

TMS Driver Polar Imagery

In this example, GIBS_Terra_MODIS_Arctic.xml is used to generate a true color JPEG image from Terra MODIS of a phytoplankton bloom in the Barents Sea. The "Layer Name on Server" and EPSG/resolution in <ServerUrl>, the <DataWindow> elements, and the <Projection> have changed from the first examples. The contents of GIBS_Terra_MODIS_Arctic.xml would be:

<GDAL_WMS>
    <Service name="TMS">
        <ServerUrl>https://gibs.earthdata.nasa.gov/wmts/epsg3413/best/MODIS_Terra_CorrectedReflectance_TrueColor/default/2013-08-01/250m/${z}/${y}/${x}.jpg</ServerUrl>
    </Service>
    <DataWindow>
        <UpperLeftX>-4194304</UpperLeftX>
        <UpperLeftY>4194304</UpperLeftY>
        <LowerRightX>4194304</LowerRightX>
        <LowerRightY>-4194304</LowerRightY>
        <TileLevel>5</TileLevel>
        <TileCountX>2</TileCountX>
        <TileCountY>2</TileCountY>
        <YOrigin>top</YOrigin>
    </DataWindow>
    <Projection>EPSG:3413</Projection>
    <BlockSizeX>512</BlockSizeX>
    <BlockSizeY>512</BlockSizeY>
    <BandsCount>3</BandsCount>
</GDAL_WMS>

GeoTIFF files created by GDAL using the default tags for the GIBS polar projections do not work correctly in some GIS programs. So we recommend specifying the output projection in PROJ4 format:

gdal_translate -of GTiff -outsize 980 940 -a_srs "+proj=stere +lat_0=90 +lat_ts=70 +lon_0=-45 +k=1 +x_0=0 +y_0=0 +ellps=WGS84 +datum=WGS84 +units=m +no_defs" -projwin 1520000 240000 2500000 -700000 GIBS_Terra_MODIS_Arctic.xml BarentsSea.tif
gdal_translate -of JPEG BarentsSea.tif BarentsSea.jpg

The projection string for the GIBS Antarctic projection is "+proj=stere +lat_0=-90 +lat_ts=-71 +lon_0=0 +k=1 +x_0=0 +y_0=0 +ellps=WGS84 +datum=WGS84 +units=m +no_defs". Here are the links for the Arctic and Antarctic PROJ4 definitions. Some other workarounds are:

  • Use a ".aux.xml" file with the ".tif" file. Download the sample Arctic or Antarctic XML file and rename it to match the GeoTIFF file.
gdal_translate -of GTiff -outsize 980 940 -projwin 1520000 240000 2500000 -700000 GIBS_Terra_MODIS_Arctic.xml BarentsSea.tif
"copy" GIBS_Arctic_3413.tif.aux.xml "to"  BarentsSea.tif.aux.xml
gdal_translate -of JPEG BarentsSea.tif BarentsSea.jpg
  • Use JPEG format instead. This will create a .jpg.aux.xml file in addition to the .jpg file.
gdal_translate -of JPEG -outsize 980 940 -projwin 1520000 240000 2500000 -700000 GIBS_Terra_MODIS_Arctic.xml BarentsSea.jpg

TMS Driver Polar Layer w/ Reprojection

In this example, GIBS_Aqua_MODIS_Arctic.xml is used to generate a true color JPEG image from Aqua MODIS of the Beaufort Sea reprojected to have 145W down. The "Layer Name on Server" and EPSG/resolution in <ServerUrl>, the <DataWindow> elements, and the <Projection> have changed from the first examples. The contents of GIBS_Aqua_MODIS_Arctic.xml would be:

<GDAL_WMS>
    <Service name="TMS">
        <ServerUrl>https://gibs.earthdata.nasa.gov/wmts/epsg3413/best/MODIS_Aqua_CorrectedReflectance_TrueColor/default/2013-06-20/250m/${z}/${y}/${x}.jpg</ServerUrl>
    </Service>
    <DataWindow>
        <UpperLeftX>-4194304</UpperLeftX>
        <UpperLeftY>4194304</UpperLeftY>
        <LowerRightX>4194304</LowerRightX>
        <LowerRightY>-4194304</LowerRightY>
        <TileLevel>5</TileLevel>
        <TileCountX>2</TileCountX>
        <TileCountY>2</TileCountY>
        <YOrigin>top</YOrigin>
    </DataWindow>
    <Projection>EPSG:3413</Projection>
    <BlockSizeX>512</BlockSizeX>
    <BlockSizeY>512</BlockSizeY>
    <BandsCount>3</BandsCount>
</GDAL_WMS>
gdalwarp -t_srs '+proj=stere +lat_0=90 +lat_ts=70 +lon_0=-145 +k=1 +x_0=0 +y_0=0 +datum=WGS84 +units=m +no_defs' -te -1600000 -2500000 1200000 -400000 -tr 1000 1000 GIBS_Aqua_MODIS_Arctic.xml Beaufort_neg145down_1km.tif
gdal_translate -of JPEG Beaufort_neg145down_1km.tif Beaufort_neg145down_1km.jpg

TMS Driver Reprojecting GIBS Geographic layer into Polar Stereographic

Only a subset of layers are available from GIBS in the polar projections. This is an example of how to project a geographic layer into a polar projection. The contents of GIBS_Terra_Cloud_Fraction.xml would be:

<GDAL_WMS>
    <Service name="TMS">
        <ServerUrl>https://gibs.earthdata.nasa.gov/wmts/epsg4326/best/MODIS_Terra_Cloud_Fraction_Day/default/2017-05-16/2km/${z}/${y}/${x}.png</ServerUrl>
    </Service>
    <DataWindow>
        <UpperLeftX>-180.0</UpperLeftX>
        <UpperLeftY>90</UpperLeftY>
        <LowerRightX>396.0</LowerRightX>
        <LowerRightY>-198</LowerRightY>
        <TileLevel>5</TileLevel>
        <TileCountX>2</TileCountX>
        <TileCountY>1</TileCountY>
        <YOrigin>top</YOrigin>
    </DataWindow>
    <Projection>EPSG:4326</Projection>
    <BlockSizeX>512</BlockSizeX>
    <BlockSizeY>512</BlockSizeY>
    <BandsCount>4</BandsCount>
    <ZeroBlockHttpCodes>204,404,400</ZeroBlockHttpCodes>
</GDAL_WMS>
gdalwarp -wo SOURCE_EXTRA=100 -wo SAMPLE_GRID=YES -of GTiff -t_srs "+proj=stere +lat_0=90 +lat_ts=70 +lon_0=-45 +k=1 +x_0=0 +y_0=0 +ellps=WGS84 +datum=WGS84 +units=m +no_defs" -ts 4096 4096 -te -4194304 -4194304 4194304 4194304 GIBS_Terra_Cloud_Fraction.xml Terra_Cloud_Fraction_Arctic.tif

Bulk Downloading

A "Bulk Download" is defined as the planned retrieval of more than 1,000,000 imagery tiles within a 24 hour period. These activities are typically orchestrated through script-based access to the GIBS API, not user-based access through a client application. In order to ensure quality of service for all GIBS users, the GIBS team requests that bulk downloading activities be coordinated at least 48 hours in advance of the planned download. Prior to beginning your bulk downloading activities, please contact the GIBS support team at support@earthdata.nasa.gov with the subject "GIBS Bulk Download Request" and the following information:

  1. Purpose
  2. Primary POC (Email & Phone)
  3. Layers
  4. Zoom Level(s)
  5. Date(s)
  6. Expected Load Profile
    • Start and End Times
    • Request Volume per Hour
    • Number of Concurrent Downloads
  7. Source IP Address(es)

The GIBS utilization profile indicates that there is not a period of time within which "regular" usage drops. Therefore, bulk downloading activities are allowed to occur as is convenient for the downloading group or individual. The following guidelines should be taken into consider when designing a bulk download plan:

  1. Limit sustained download bandwidth to 50 Mbps.
    • For GIBS overlay (PNG) layers, this is an approximate minimum of 150k tiles per hour due to the large size variation based on the image content density.
    • For GIBS base (JPEG) layers, this is approximately 350k tiles per hour with limited variation in image size across products and geographic regions.
  2. Limit concurrent downloads to 500 threads
  3. Evenly distribute download requests across the entire bulk downloading period, avoiding significant spikes of activity.
  4. Start small with fewer concurrent threads and build to your proposed maximum download rate.

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