Near Real-Time versus Standard Products

MODIS Standard Processing vs Near Real-Time Processing Cloud Top Temperature
MODIS Cloud top tempurature over the Midwest. Thin clouds over Lake Superior show sensitivity to GDAS ancillary data.

Science quality, or higher-level “standard” data products are an internally consistent, well-calibrated record of the Earth’s geophysical properties to support science.  They are made available within 8-40 hours of satellite observation. Standard products corresponding to the LANCE near real-time (NRT) products are archived as follows:
  • MODIS atmosphere and L1 products are available through the LAADS Web.
  • MODIS land products are available from the LP DAAC and the NSIDC DAAC (snow and ice).
  • AIRS and MLS products are available through the GES DISC.
  • OMI products are available through the GES DISC.
  • AMSR-E products are available from the NSIDC DAAC.
  • AMSR SIPS plans to start producing initial AMSR2 standard science quality data products in late 2015 and they will be available from the NSIDC DAAC.

Comparisons between the NRT and standard products are available:

AIRS NRT vs Standard Products

AIRS NRT vs Standard Products

In order to generate data products within 3 hours of observation time, a number of changes have been made to standard processing approach to expedite the availability of input data sets.

The AIRS NRT data products are identical to the AIRS routine products except for the following. The AIRS NRT products are produced:

  • - The NRT granules are produced without previous or subsequent granules if those granules are not available within 5 minutes (previous and subsequent granules are used for calibration and are generally present in 5 minutes).
  • - Predictive ephemeris/attitude data are used (in contrast, definitive ephemeris/attitude data are used for processing standard products).
  • - Nominally, a forecast surface pressure is used; if this is unavailable, a surface climatology is then used.
  • - No ice cloud properties retrievals are performed (ice cloud properties are a new retrieval in the Version 6 support product AIRX2SUP).

These differences have the following implications for the AIRS NRT Level 1B and Level 2 products.

Level 1B The atmospheric surface pressure is not used in Level 1B processing, the AIRS Level 1b radiance data produced in the Near Real Time (NRT) system are nearly identical to the routinely processed AIRS data.  There may be small differences in the geolocation (i.e., longitude and latitude). Also, since the NRT system does not wait as long for the previous or subsequent granule data to be present before processing there may be small differences in the radiances of NRT data that were processed without the previous or subsequent granules. This can happen when AIRS is entering or leaving the range of a downlink station (usually are 17 times/day). The reason for the differences is because the standard product uses the space view offset from the previous and subsequent granules for calibration purposes.

Level 2 The AIRS Level 2 NRT retrieval products can differ from the routine products because of small differences in assumed surface pressure and/or differences in the radiances. Although it is rare, if the forecast surface pressure is not available when the NRT data are produced the NRT algorithm assumes a surface pressure based on a Digital Elevation Map (DEM) rather than the more accurate forecast surface pressure. The differences in the assumed surface pressure tend to be small (~ 10 mbar) near the equator but can become larger (~ 70 mbar) near synoptic weather events. The pressure differences can also lead to differences in the retrieved temperature and water vapor.

For more information, please read the following document, AIRS Near Real Time (NRT) data products: May 10, 2010, describing the difference between AIRS NRT and Standard Products.

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AMSR2 NRT vs Standard Products

AMSR2 NRT vs Standard Products

The LANCE system provides access to near real-time data (less than 3 hours from observation). Users, operational agencies and researchers utilize these products for a wide range of purposes (weather forecasting to monitoring natural hazards). These users often need data much sooner than routine science processing allows and are willing to trade science quality for timely access. Science quality products should be used for latency independent research and applications.

The AMSR SIPS plans to start producing initial AMSR2 standard science quality data products in late 2015 and they will be available from the NSIDC DAAC.

Note: Please be aware that the LANCE AMSR2 NRT products are generated using modified versions of the AMSR-E standard product algorithms, which have not been updated to reflect the differences between AMSR-E and AMSR2 calibrations.  All LANCE AMSR2 data should be used with the understanding that these are preliminary data products.

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MLS NRT vs Standard Products

MLS NRT vs Standard Products

In order to generate data products within 3 hours of observation time, a number of changes have been made to standard processing approach to expedite the availability of input data sets.

For detailed information on MLS Near Real-Time (NRT) data product quality, please see the user guide.

The MLS NRT algorithm uses a simplified fast forward model to meet Near Real Time data latency requirements and are therefore not as accurate as the retrievals that constitute the standard MLS products. Nevertheless the results are scientifically useful in selected regions of the earth's atmosphere provided that the data are screened according to the recommendations in the MLS NRT user guide.

The NRT data are typically available within 3 hours of observation and are broken into files containing about 15 minutes of data. The 7 most recent days of MLS NRT data are kept online for users to download. After this time users should download the standard, full production Level-2 data products.

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MODIS NRT vs Standard Products

MODIS NRT vs Standard Products

In order to generate data products within 3 hours of observation time, a number of changes have been made to standard processing approach to expedite the availability of input data sets.

Near Real-Time Approach

First, the entrained Terra attitude and ephemeris data are used as opposed to the flight data (FD) product for standard processing. Second, the rate-buffered ground based attitude data (GBAD) Aqua attitude and ephemeris data are used as opposed to the 24-hour EOS Mission Operations System (EMOS) product for standard processing. Third, certain Level 2 (L2) codes have modified production rules to relax the requirements for ancillary data products.

The production rules used for Cloud Mask/Profiles and L2 Clouds were developed by the University of Wisconsin for their near real-time production. The production rules for L2 Aerosols were used in the standard processing for near real-time support of the ARCTAS campaign. The L2 Fire, Snow, and Sea Ice codes do not make use of ancillary data products and these codes are identical to the ones used in standard operations. A special version of the L2 Land Surface Reflectance for near real-time use was developed by the Principal Investigator (PI); this code uses the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Global Forecast System (GFS) ancillary product as opposed to Global Data Assimilation System (GDAS) used in the standard processing version.

The near real-time Project Generation Executive (PGE) codes were extensively science tested and all products were compared to the baseline products generated by the standard processing. This comparison was made by the atmosphere and land Quality Assessment (QA) (Land Data Operational Products Evaluation (LDOPE)) staff and by the PIs. All PGEs have been validated for use in LANCE-MODIS by the PIs. This process will be repeated as new versions of the PGEs become available and are considered for inclusion in LANCE-MODIS.

Side by Side Comparison

Two examples of side-by-side comparisons of the standard and near real-time products are shown here. The first shows a Land Surface Reflectance granule over the Midwest. There appears to be no difference between the products. However, under close examination the near real-time view shows slightly more haze West of the Great Lakes.

MODIS Standard Processing vs Near Real-Time Processing Land Surface Reflectance
In this side-by-side comparison of a standard and near-real time Land Surface Reflectance granule over the Midwest there appears to be no difference between the products. However, under close examination the near-real time view shows slightly more haze West of the Great Lakes.

In contrast, the second side-by-side comparison is for Cloud Top Temperature for the same granule and there are very obvious differences in the region West of the Great Lakes. This is as a result of the sensitivity of this product to the GDAS ancillary data.

MODIS Standard Processing vs Near Real-Time Processing Cloud Top Temperature
MODIS Cloud top tempurature over the Midwest. Thin clouds over Lake Superior show sensitivity to GDAS ancillary data.

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OMI NRT vs Standard Products

OMI NRT vs Standard Products

In order to generate data products within 3 hours of observation time, a number of changes have been made to standard processing approach to expedite the availability of input data sets.

The quality of OMI NRT Level 2 products compares favorably to the standard products. There appears to be some variances at high latitudes with high solar zenith angles. In the following table we display the maximum differences for a single day and averaged over a week.

Product Variable Daily Maximum Percentage Difference Weekly Average Maximum Percentage Difference
OMTO3 Total Ozone Column 2.64% 1.40%
OMCLDRR Cloud Fraction 6.02% 1.42%
  Cloud Pressure 2.82% 0.67%
OMAERUV AOD (388 nm) 5.95% 2.31%

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EOSDIS manages 12 Distributed Active Archive Centers (DAACs). Each DAAC processes, archives and distributes EOS science data based on discipline. They serve the user community by providing science quality products from past and present EOS missions. Other services include:

  • Help with obtaining and selecting data
  • Data-handling and visualization tools
  • Notification of data-related news
  • Technical support and referrals

Page Last Updated: May 2, 2019 at 12:52 PM EDT