GLS Surface Reflectance

Data Access

Surface reflectance is the fraction of incoming solar radiation that is reflected from Earth's surface. Retrieved from satellite images by correcting for atmospheric effects, surface reflectance images approximate what would be measured by a sensor held just above the Earth's surface, without any artifacts from the atmosphere or illumination and viewing geometry. Surface reflectance is the most basic remotely sensed surface parameter in the solar reflective wavelengths (i.e., visible and infrared), providing the primary input for essentially all higher-level surface geophysical parameters, including vegetation indices, albedo, Leaf Area Index (LAI), Fraction of Photosynthetically Absorbed Radiation (FPAR), burned area, land cover, and land cover change. Because removing atmospheric artifacts increases the comparability between images of Earth's surface taken at different times, surface reflectance is also used to detect and monitor changes on the Earth's surface.

Science Data Sets Units Bit Type Fill Valid Range Scale factor (multiply)
Band1 Surface Reflectance Reflectance 16-bit signed integer -9999 -2000,16000 0.0001
Band2 Surface Reflectance Reflectance 16-bit signed integer -9999 -2000,16000 0.0001
Band3 Surface Reflectance Reflectance 16-bit signed integer -9999 -2000,16000 0.0001
Band4 Surface Reflectance Reflectance 16-bit signed integer -9999 -2000,16000 0.0001
Band5 Surface Reflectance Reflectance 16-bit signed integer -9999 -2000,16000 0.0001
Band7 Surface Reflectance Reflectance 16-bit signed integer -9999 -2000,16000 0.0001
Band6 TOA Temperature Celcius 16-bit signed integer -9999 -7000, 7000 0.01
Atmospheric Opacity of band1 16-bit signed integer -9999 -2000,16000 0.0001
Landsat SR QA 16-bit signed integer -1 0, 32767 N/A

Quality Flags Description
Bit 0 Unused
Bit 1 Data Quality flag (0=Valid data, 1=Invalid data)
Bit 2 Cloud mask (0=clear, 1=cloudy)
Bit 3 Cloud shadow mask
Bit 4 Snow mask
Bit 5 Land mask (0= water, 1=land)
Bit 6-15 Unused
How to Cite This Data Set

Data Citation Format:Author (Publication Date), Collection Name, Sensor name, , Publisher, Publisher Location.

Full Data Citation: Global Land Cover Facility (GLCF), Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) (2011), Landsat Surface Reflectance , Landsat TM & ETM+, Global Land Cover Facility University of Maryland, College Park.


  • Feng, M., J.O. Sexton, C. Huang, J.G. Masek, E.F. Vermote, F. Gao, R. Narasimhan, S. Channan, R.E. Wolfe, J.R. Townshend. 2013. Global surface reflectance products from Landsat: Assessment using coincident MODIS observations. Remote Sensing of Environment 134:276-293
  • Feng, M., C. Huang, J.O. Sexton, S. Channan, R. Narasimhan, J.R. Townshend, 2012. An approach for quickly labeling land cover types for multiple epochs at globally selected locations. IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS) 2012, 6203-6206.doi:10.1109/IGARSS.2012.6352674
  • Masek, J.G., Vermote, E.F., Saleous, N.E., Wolfe, R., Hall, F.G., Huemmrich, K.F., Feng, G., Kutler, J. & Teng-Kui, L. (2006). A Landsat surface reflectance dataset for North America, 1990-2000. IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters, 3, 68-72.
  • Vermote, E. F., El Saleous, N. Z., Justice, C. O., Kaufman, Y. J., Privette, J., Remer, L., Roger, J. C., & Tanr, D. (1997). Atmospheric correction of visible to middle infrared EOS-MODIS data over land surface, background, operational algorithm and validation. Journal of Geophysical Research, 102(14), 17131-17141.
Intellectual Property Rights

Use is free to all if acknowledgement is made; effectively held by University of Maryland; but ultimately held by US public.


Source for this data set is the Global Land Cover Facility,

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