Ocean Colour data, from the Sentinel-3 Ocean and Land Colour Instrument (OLCI), provides a window into the ocean living ecosystems.
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.
|Date in operations||Processing Baseline version||OLCI L1 product notice||OLCI L2 Ocean Colour product notice|
|12 Dec 2018||S3A: 2.42
|S3 Product Notice – OLCI||No update to L2 processing|
|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|
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:
- via our broadcast delivery system EUMETCast;
- by ordering from the EUMETSAT Data Centre;
- via Copernicus Online Data Access (CODA), an online rolling archive with http access.
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.
*Note: there are NetCDF files containing the SRFs associated with the document. NetCDFs and their location are explained on page 35, section 7.1.