Landsat Surface Reflectance

Since I don’t appreciate processing data, I always try to avoid it as much as possible and one thing that I really want to avoid is radiometric correction of satellite images (it just confuses me).

So after downloading a ton of free Landsat images for my study area from Earth Explorer, I didn’t have a good way (read: software) to process them so I let them sit and used them for some visual analysis.

Then a few weeks ago I stumbled across information about Landsat Land Surface Reflectance data (i.e. reflectance values as if measured at earth’s surface instead of top of atmosphere/at satellite), and realized that such data were available for free!

How many people know this?

I downloaded 31 scenes for my study area to use in my analyses and I think I’ve already saved a lot of time.

You can find them in Earth Explorer, under CDR Landsat, and they are available for L4-5 and L7, and will be delivered in Hierarchical Data Format (which can be opened with QGIS). You need to pre-order them and when they are ready for download you can find and download them at

Hopefully this post can help someone who’s lost in the satellite data jungle, I know I would have wanted to find this much earlier, before I purchased and downloaded other data.


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