Ocean Colour Services

Ocean Colour data, from the Sentinel-3 Ocean and Land Colour Instrument (OLCI), provides a window into the ocean living ecosystems.

Phytoplankton Blooms spotted by Sentinel-3

OLCI provides spectral information on the colour of the oceans. This data can be used to monitor global ocean primary production by phytoplankton, the basis of nearly all life in our seas.

Ocean colour data is also vital to understand climate change — ocean colour is one of the Essential Climate Variables listed by the World Meteorological Organization to detect biological activity in the ocean’s surface layer. Phytoplankton take up carbon dioxide (CO2) during photosynthesis, making them important carbon sinks. Ocean colour data can be used to monitor the annual global uptake of CO2 by phytoplankton on a global scale. Using this data we can study the wider Earth system, for instance the El Niño/La Niña phenomena and how these impacts the ocean ecosystem.

Beyond climate, ocean colour data is also useful to look at more sporadic events. OLCI data can be used track sediment transport, monitor coastal water quality and track and forecast harmful algal blooms that are a danger to humans, marine/freshwater life and aquaculture.

The global picture of ocean ecosystems provided by ocean colour data can guide sustainable marine resource management and support reporting obligations of the European Union's legislation within Marine Strategy Framework Directive and Water Framework Directive, the goal of which is to achieve or maintain Good Environmental Status of the seas by the year 2020.

Ocean colour products

The products are available in:

  • Near-Real-Time (NRT): products shall be available to the users within three hours after sensing.
  • Non-Time-Critical (NTC): products available to the users within one month after sensing.

The second table below lists the current operational OLCI products. Level 1 data provides ocean colour products derived from the top of atmosphere signal. Level 2 products include the atmospherically corrected water leaving signal, as well as derived products including chlorophyll and total suspended matter estimates.

A full list of our ocean products can be found on our Ocean Products page.

Sentinel-3 OLCI Marine User Handbook

Product notices
Date in operations Processing Baseline version OLCI L1 product notice OLCI L2 Ocean Colour product notice
14 Mar 2018 2.29 Sentinel-3 Product Notice – OLCI Level-1B No update to L2 processing
L1 from 11 Oct 2017
L2 from 29 Nov 2017
2.23 Sentinel-3 Product Notice – OLCI Level 1B and Full-Mission Reprocessed Time Series Sentinel-3A Product Notice – OLCI Level-2 Ocean Colour Operational Products and Full-Mission Reprocessed Time Series
05 July 2017 2.16 Sentinel-3 Product Notice – OLCI Level-1B Sentinel-3A Product Notice – OLCI Level-2 Ocean Colour

Sentinel 3 PDGS File Naming Convention

Ocean Colour
Name Instrument Data Access
OLCI Level 1B Full Resolution in NRT - Sentinel-3 OLCI EUMETCast-Europe,
EUMETCast-Terrestrial,
Copernicus Online Data Access (CODA),
EUMETSAT Data Centre
OLCI Level 1B Full Resolution in NTC - Sentinel-3 OLCI Copernicus Online Data Access (CODA),
EUMETSAT Data Centre
OLCI Level 1B Reduced Resolution in NRT - Sentinel-3 OLCI EUMETCast-Europe,
EUMETCast-Terrestrial,
Copernicus Online Data Access (CODA),
EUMETSAT Data Centre
OLCI Level 1B Reduced Resolution in NTC - Sentinel-3 OLCI Copernicus Online Data Access (CODA),
EUMETSAT Data Centre
OLCI Ocean Colour Full Resolution in NRT - Sentinel-3 OLCI EUMETCast-Terrestrial,
Copernicus Online Data Access (CODA),
EUMETSAT Data Centre
OLCI Ocean Colour Full Resolution in NTC - Sentinel-3 OLCI Copernicus Online Data Access (CODA),
EUMETSAT Data Centre
OLCI Ocean Colour Reduced Resolution in NRT - Sentinel-3 OLCI EUMETCast-Europe,
EUMETCast-Africa,
EUMETCast-Terrestrial,
Copernicus Online Data Access (CODA),
EUMETSAT Data Centre
OLCI Ocean Colour Reduced Resolution in NTC - Sentinel-3 OLCI Copernicus Online Data Access (CODA),
EUMETSAT Data Centre
 

How to get OLCI data

Users need to be registered to get access to the OLCI products. To do this you need to use our Earth Observation Portal (EOP). To access the Earth Observation Portal (EOP) for the first time, users need to create an account. Once the account has been created, you can log in to view and modify your profile, service subscriptions and licence arrangements.

OLCI products are available:

All Sentinel data products are distributed using a Sentinel-specific variation of the Standard Archive Format for Europe (SAFE) format specification. The information is contained in a single package, with objects encoded in NetCDF format.

Full details can be found in on the Sentinel Formats page.

How to use OLCI data

The Sentinel-3 Toolbox consists of a rich set of visualisation, analysis and processing tools for the exploitation of OLCI data.

Watch this video demonstration from our expert Hayley Evers-King..

See also: Atlantic Ocean Colour video

It will be possible to see imagery from OLCI on our imagery visualisation tool, EUMETView.

The Sentinel-3 OLCI User Guide on the ESA website provides a high level description of the available instrument modes and products.

Our Image Library also has case studies on how OLCI data can be used.

OLCI documents

Title Type Reference Ver
Sentinel-3 OLCI Marine User Handbook UG EUM/OPS-SEN3/MAN/17/907205 1H
Product Data Format Specification - OLCI Level 1 & Level 2 Instrument Products PFS S3IPF.PDS.004 1.10
OLCI Bright Waters AC Algorithm Theoretical Basis Document ATBD S3-L2-SD-03-C08-ARGATBD_BWAC 2.1
OLCI Level 2 Algorithm Theoretical Basis Document Alternative Atmospheric Correction ATBD S3-L2-SD-03-C17-GKSS-ATBD 1.1
OLCI Level 2 Algorithm Theoretical Basis Document Atmospheric corrections over Case 1 waters ATBD S3-L2-SD-03-C07-LOV-ATBD 2.2
OLCI Level 2 Algorithm Theoretical Basis Document Bright Pixel Correction (based on ESA Envisat MERIS reprocessing 4) ATBD EUM/OPS-SEN3/DOC/17/961973(MERIS ATBD 2) 5.3
OLCI Level 2 Algorithm Theoretical Basis Document Confidence Check ATBD S3-L2-SD-03-C05-ARG-ATBD 2.1
OLCI Level 2 Algorithm Theoretical Basis Document Glint Correction ATBD S3-L2-SD-03-C09-ARG-ATBD 2
OLCI Level 2 Algorithm Theoretical Basis Document Instrumental Corrections ATBD S3-L2-SD-03-C04-ACR-ATBD 1.2
OLCI Level 2 Algorithm Theoretical Basis Document Ocean Colour Products in Case 1 waters ATBD S3-L2-SD-03- C10-LOV-ATBD 2.2
OLCI Level 2 Algorithm Theoretical Basis Document Ocean Colour Turbid Water ATBD S3-L2-SD-03-C11-GKSS-ATBD 2.1
OLCI Level 2 Algorithm Theoretical Basis Document Photosynthetically Active Radiation ATBD S3-L2-SD-03-C12-ARG-ATBD 1.2
OLCI Level 2 Algorithm Theoretical Basis Document Pixel Classification ATBD S3-L2-SD-03-C01-LISE-ATBD 2.3
OLCI Level 2 Algorithm Theoretical Basis Document White Caps Correction ATBD S3-L2-SD-03-C06-ARG-ATBD 2
Retrieval of Total Water Vapour Content from OLCI Measurements Algorithm Theoretical Basis Document ATBD S3-L2-SD-03-CFUB- ATBD_WaterVapour 2
OLCI Level 2 Algorithm Theoretical Basis Document Correction of the impact of the absorption of atmospheric gases ATBD 2.2
OLCI Level 2 Algorithm Theoretical Basis Document Transparency products ATBD S3-L2-SD-03-C16-ACR-ATBD 1.0
Technical Note: Sentinel-3 OLCI-A spectral response functions*   S3-TN-ESA-OL-660 2.0

*Note: there are NetCDF files containing the SRFs associated with the document. NetCDFs and their location are explained on page 35, section 7.1.

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