How do I subset data granules?

How do I subset a data granule using Harmony?

Install the harmony-py package:

# Install harmony-py
pip install -U harmony-py

Import packages:

import datetime as dt

from harmony import BBox, Client, Collection, Request, LinkType

import s3fs
import xarray as xr

Set up Harmony client and authentication

We will authenticate the following Harmony request using a netrc file. See the appendix for more information on Earthdata Login and netrc setup. This basic line below to create a Harmony Client assumes that we have a .netrc available.

harmony_client = Client()

Create and submit Harmony request

We are interested in the GHRSST Level 4 MUR Global Foundation Sea Surface Temperature Analysis dataset. We are subsetting over the Pacific Ocean to the west of Mexico during 1:00 - 2:00 on 10 March 2021. The dataset is organized into daily files, so while we are specifying a single hour in our request, this will return that full day’s worth of data.

dataset_short_name = 'MUR-JPL-L4-GLOB-v4.1'

request = Request(
    'start': dt.datetime(2021, 3, 10, 1),
    'stop': dt.datetime(2021, 3, 10, 2)

job_id = harmony_client.submit(request)


Open and read the subsetted file in xarray

Harmony data outputs can be accessed within the cloud using the s3 URLs and AWS credentials provided in the Harmony job response. Using aws_credentials we can retrieve the credentials needed to access the Harmony s3 staging bucket and its contents. We then use the AWS s3fs package to create a file system that can then be read by xarray.

results = harmony_client.result_urls(job_id, link_type=LinkType.s3)
urls = list(results)
url = urls[0]

creds = harmony_client.aws_credentials()

s3_fs = s3fs.S3FileSystem(

f =, mode='rb')
ds = xr.open_dataset(f)

Plot data

Use the xarray built in plotting function to create a simple plot along the x and y dimensions of the dataset:

ds.analysed_sst.plot() ;

R code coming soon!

# Coming soon!

This example assumes that you have experimented with and understood the tutorial MATLAB Access Single NASA EarthData L2 NetCDF presented in this Cookbook.

To subset a dataset, either read it over its full extent and subset it using MATLAB indexing (a posteriori, client-side), or use the start, count, and stride parameters of function h5read to read only specific regions/samples (hyperslabs) of it (server side). The code snippets that follow present both approaches, for accessing a dataset of sea surface temperature.

Follow the authentication procedure presented in the tutorial:

daacCredentialsEndpoint = "";

Define relevant file and dataset:

filePath = "s3://podaac-ops-cumulus-protected/MODIS_A-JPL-L2P-v2019.0/";
datasetName = "sea_surface_temperature_4um";
datasetPath = "/" + datasetName;

Read full dataset, longitudes, and latitudes. Replace fill values by NaN (so they are not displayed by MALTAB), and build contour plot:

fill_value = h5readatt(filePath,datasetPath,"_FillValue");
name = h5readatt(filePath,datasetPath,"long_name");
data = h5read(filePath,datasetPath);
data(data == fill_value) = NaN;
lat = h5read(filePath,"/lat");
lon = h5read(filePath,"/lon");

Subset/sub-sample full dataset with a step of 10 (a posteriori) using MATLAB indexing:

step = 10;
dataSize = size(data);
rowIx = 1 : step : dataSize(1);
colIx = 1 : step : dataSize(2);
title(name + " (sub-sampled through MATLAB indexing)");

Use the start, count, and stride parameters of function h5read to read only specific regions/samples (hyperslabs) of it (server side). These parameters must be defined as vectors whose size matches the number of dimensions of the dataset. Here, we want to read data starting at index 1, with a stride/step of 10, and cover the full extent of the dataset (count = Inf). Based on our experiments above, we assume that the dataset is a 2D array:

dataStride10 = h5read(filePath,datasetPath,[1,1],[Inf,Inf],[step,step]);

Running this leads to the following error:

Error using h5readc
The START, COUNT, and STRIDE parameters must be double precision, positive, and have length equal to the rank of the dataset.

This error message is too succint to be helpful. Try to get more information about the dataset using the h5disp, which is cloud-enabled unlike ncdisp:


Dataset 'sea_surface_temperature_4um' 
    Size:  1354x2030x1                    <--- Shows a 3rd (singleton) dimension
    MaxSize:  1354x2030x1                     
    Datatype:   H5T_STD_I16LE (int16)
    ChunkSize:  677x1015x1
    Filters:  deflate(5)
    FillValue:  -32767
        'long_name':  'sea surface temperature'
        'units':  'kelvin'
        '_FillValue':  -32767 
        'valid_min':  -1000 
        'valid_max':  10000 
        'comment':  'sea surface temperature from mid-IR (4 um) channels; non L2P core field'
        'scale_factor':  0.005000 
        'add_offset':  273.149994 
        'coordinates':  'lon lat'
        'coverage_content_type':  'physicalMeasurement'

This output shows a 3rd (singleton) dimension, but it still does not explain what it is.

One workaround is to display more of the content of the file through h5disp and/or h5info and try to get relevant information about dimensions. The following shows a simpler approach, however: create a local copy of the file and analyze it using ncdisp. It is possible because MATLAB IO functions, and in particular copyfile, are cloud-enabled:


           ni   = 1354
           nj   = 2030
           time = 1
           Size:       1354x2030x1
           Dimensions: ni,nj,time
           Datatype:   int16

This makes it clear that there is a 3rd dimension that is time, with a size of 1.

Subset the dataset using h5read and vectors of 3 elements that define start, count, and stride for the 3 dimensions:

dataStride10 = h5read(filePath,datasetPath,[1,1,1],[Inf,Inf,Inf],[step,step,1]);
dataStride10(dataStride10 == fill_value) = NaN;
latStride10 = h5read(filePath,"/lat",[1,1],[Inf,Inf],[step,step]);
lonStride10 = h5read(filePath,"/lon",[1,1],[Inf,Inf],[step,step]);
title(name+ " (sub-sampled through H5READ stride parameter)");

We can target a specific region using the same two approaches. The following shows how to create an array of logicals that “flags” a region of interest, how to identify relevant rows and columns of the data, latitudes, and longitudes arrays, and how to use logical indexing for plotting the data:

latBounds = [31,33.5];
lonBounds = [-64,-57.5];
isRegion = lat>=latBounds(1) & lat<=latBounds(2) & lon>=lonBounds(1) & lon<=lonBounds(2);
isRow = any(isRegion,2);
isCol = any(isRegion,1);
title(name+ " (selected region)");

With wget and curl:

# Coming soon!

How do I subset an OPeNDAP granule in the cloud?

How do I subset a data granule using xarray?