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What's the difference between Landsat 8 collection 1 and 2,and what's the difference between level 1 and level 2 in each collection? I'm a little bit confused and I don't know which one I should use.

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Collection 2 has improved data quality in comparison to collection 1, as it has improvements to the absolute geolocation accuracy, but also including updated digital elevation modelling sources, improved radiometric calibration, and enhanced quality assessment bands, in addition to updated metadata and file formats.

Level-2 is atmospherically corrected (Surface Reflectance) data, whereas, Level-1 contains a scaled Digital Number (DN) ( usually 8 or 16 bit unsigned integers). Level-2 is the "ready to use data" as you do not have to implement any corrections.

Therefore, I would recommend collection 2 level 2 data.

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  • Here is a summary, comparing both collections and levels, from Landsat team: usgs.gov/media/files/…
    – Salit
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 12:26
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Landsat Collections

Each Landsat Collections represents a set of processing methods for the Landsat raw images. Within the same collection, all the data will share the same radiometric and geometric parameters, calibration methods, etc. So the users can ensure the Landsat image in a collection has a consistent geometric and radiometric accuracy over time. At the same time, USGS can issue a new collection that harnesses recent advancements in data processing, algorithm development, and data access and distribution capabilities, without affecting the users of the existing collection. In other words, Landsat collection is more or less a version control system used by USGS in Landsat image processing.

Currently, there are two Landsat Collections, namely Landsat Collection 1 and Landsat Collection 2. Landsat Collection 1 is the older one and Landsat Collection 2 represents the state-of-art one. A primary characteristic of Collection 2 is the substantial improvement in the absolute geolocation accuracy of the global ground reference dataset used in the Landsat Level-1 processing flow. Additionally, Collection 2 includes updated global digital elevation modeling sources, calibration and validation updates, as well as global Level-2 surface reflectance and surface temperature scene-based products from 1982 to present. Collection 1 contains all Level-1 data acquired since 1972 to present from Landsat 1-8. Landsat 9 is only available in Collection 2. Collection 2 contains all Landsat sensors Landsat 1-9.

According to USGS, Landsat Collection 1 based forward processing ended December 31, 2021. As of January 1, 2022, all new Landsat acquisitions are processed into the Collection 2 inventory structure only. Collection 1 products will remain available for search and download until December 31, 2022.

Landsat Levels

Level-1 products are the image data stored in Digital Numbers (DNs), which can be converted to Top-of-atmosphere reflectance or at-sensor radiance using the metadata provided along with the product.

Level-2 product are the calculated image data based on Level-1 product. Some Level-2 products are Landsat Surface Reflectance, Landsat Surface Temperature, etc.

Recommendation

If you are new in this field, you may first start with Collection 2 Level-2.

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