Reading raster files with GDAL

With GDAL, you can read and write several different raster formats in Python. Python automatically registers all known GDAL drivers for reading supported formats when the importing the GDAL module. Most common file formats include for example TIFF and GeoTIFF, ASCII Grid and Erdas Imagine .img -files.

Landsat 8 bands are stored as separate GeoTIFF -files in the original package. Each band contains information of surface reflectance from different ranges of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Let’s start with inspecting one of the files we downloaded:

from osgeo import gdal

filepath = r"LandsatData/LC81910182016153LGN00_sr_band4.tif"

# Open the file:
raster = gdal.Open(filepath)

# Check type of the variable 'raster'

Read raster file properties

The satellite image is now stored as a GDAL Dataset object in the variable raster. Let’s have a closer look at the properties of the file:

# Projection

# Dimensions

# Number of bands

# Metadata for the raster dataset

Get raster bands

In our case, all bands of the Landsat 8 scene are stored as separate files. rasterCount is 1 as we have only opened one GeoTiff containing Landsat 8 band 4. However, different bands of a satellite images are often stacked together in one raster dataset in which case rasterCount would be greater than one.

In order to have a closer look at the values stored in the band, we will take advantage of the GDAL Band API.

# Read the raster band as separate variable
band = raster.GetRasterBand(1)

# Check type of the variable 'band'

# Data type of the values

Now we have a GDAL Raster Band object stored in the variable band.

Data type of the band can be interpreted with the help of GDAL documentation on Pixel data types. Unsigned integer is always equal or greater than zero and signed integer can store also negative values. For example, an unsigned 16-bit integer can store 2^16 (=65,536) values ranging from 0 to 65,535.

Band statistics

Next, let’s have a look at the values that are stored in the band. You might need to calculate statistics for the raster before being able to print out any information.

# Compute statistics if needed
if band.GetMinimum() is None or band.GetMaximum()is None:
    print("Statistics computed.")

# Fetch metadata for the band

# Print only selected metadata:
print ("[ NO DATA VALUE ] = ", band.GetNoDataValue()) # none
print ("[ MIN ] = ", band.GetMinimum())
print ("[ MAX ] = ", band.GetMaximum())