AppEEARS 2.0: New Features and Data to Further Improve User Workflow Efficiency

The latest enhancements to the AppEEARS program provide access to more datasets along with greater flexibility for working with Earth observing data from NASA and other federal data archives.

Aaron Friesz, LP DAAC Data Scientist; Innovate, Inc.

As the amount of remote sensing data increase in number and volume, users are continually looking for ways to simplify and streamline their data access and processing methods. The release of the Application for Extracting and Exploring Analysis Ready Samples (AppEEARS) in March 2016 by the Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC) significantly reduced the amount of data users needed to download, enabling similar datasets to be co-discovered more easily and providing a way to more efficiently explore results. The recent release of AppEEARS 2.0 further increases the usefulness of this powerful application with the addition of an Area Sampler along with access to more datasets.

The initial release of AppEEARS included a Point Sampler that immediately lifted the data access and processing burden from users conducting studies at discrete geographic point locations using data distributed by LP DAAC. LP DAAC is a partnership between the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and NASA, and is one of NASA's discipline-specific Distributed Active Archive Centers (DAACs) in the Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS).


AppEEARS Examples
Three AppEEARS requests show the reductions in data size and download time along with the subsetting capabilities AppEEARS provides. NASA LP DAAC image.

The AppEEARS Point Sampler allows users to input tens, and even hundreds, of geographic coordinates, select specific data variables of interest from NASA Earth science data, and set constraints to receive time series information. Quality data associated with raw data values also are returned with AppEEARS Point Sample requests, which is a critical aspect of remote sensing data that often is overlooked. Sample request outputs are downloaded as comma separated value (csv) files. The use of the csv format significantly reduces the amount of data users have to download to their local machine. Users also can explore data values, trends, and relationships within the AppEEARS interface using a variety of interactive charts and graphs.

The release of AppEEARS Version 2.0, announced on September 29, 2017, adds greater functionality through the addition of an Area Sampler. The Area Sampler enables users to subset and transform geographic areas (polygons) in a variety of ways. Users can set parameters to subset by time and by layer, as well as mosaic, reformat, and reproject multiple datasets in one simple step. In addition to returning area-specific raw data values, the Area Sampler also returns definitions for quality data. A recent follow-on release provides an additional download option for retrieving summary statistics relating to data visualizations offered within the Area Sampler in the csv file format. With users now able to subset specific geographic areas along with setting variable and temporal constraints, they no longer need to download gigabytes or terabytes worth of data. In fact, in some cases AppEEARS can reduce the amount of data users are required to download by up to 10,000 percent - a significant savings in time and computational power.

The growth of the AppEEARS user base has led to the demand for not only more features and functions, but also for more datasets. AppEEARS now offers access to more than 100 datasets from several EOSDIS DAACs. Data products in AppEEARS are provided through a collaborative effort by LP DAAC, as well as the National Snow and Ice Data Center DAAC (NSIDC DAAC), and Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC). LP DAAC also is working with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory DAAC (ORNL DAAC) to add Daymet data and with NSIDC DAAC to add a selection of datasets from NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission. In addition, AppEEARS provides access to a wide range of environmental variables derived from data collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard the Terra and Aqua Earth observing satellites, as well as socioeconomic variables from SEDAC’s Gridded Population of the World Version 4 (GPWv4) collection. Finally, LP DAAC is working with the USGS Landsat Program at the Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center to prototype access to Landsat Analysis Ready Data (ARD).

AppEEARS offers users a simple and efficient way to access and prepare data for analysis by enabling users to download only the data they need. The release of AppEEARS 2.0 provides greater functionality for this application as it continues to grow across the EOSDIS enterprise, link archived data across federal agencies, and extend its reach in the Earth science user community.

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