eriklindquist edited this page Jan 11, 2018 · 12 revisions

This is the beginning of the SEPAL wiki. It's not much. But we'll be working on it...

What is SEPAL?

SEPAL is a cloud computing-based platform for autonomous land monitoring using remotely-sensed data. It is a combination of Google Earth Engine and open source softwares ORFEO Toolbox, GDAL, R, R Studio Server, R Shiny Server, SNAP Toolkit, and OpenForis Geospatial Toolkit. It allows users to access powerful cloud-computing resources to query, access and process satellite data quickly and efficiently for creating advanced analyses.

SEPAL is currently in a BETA testing mode only. It is undergoing constant updates and improvements and has not reached a point of being considered a stable codebase. It works, of's just not something we can call finished.

Who is responsible for SEPAL?

SEPAL is a project of the Forestry Department of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) funded by the Government of Norway.

How do I sign up for access to SEPAL?

Go HERE and enter your information

How do I get started with SEPAL?


Login to SEPAL and give it a go!

The essentials…

There is no user manual as of yet…but the initial navigation should be relatively straightforward. However, before you get into it there are a few essential things you should know.

You are working in a secured cloud-based computing environment. In other words, you are not processing anything on your desktop but rather in a range of super-computers, or INSTANCES, located in a computing facility…somewhere. In the current case of SEPAL 2.0, these computers are part of the Amazon cloud. Specifically as of now you will be working on computers located in Ireland.

The image search, compositing, previewing and downloading is handled by Google Earth Engine. The Earth Engine is an amazing system and you can read more about it here:

SEPAL 2.0 works on the concept of ‘user budgets’. These budgets refer to a monthly US Dollar amount for processing capacity and storage capacity within the cloud-computing architecture. As BETA users of SEPAL, you have all been given 10 USD monthly for processing and storage. This may not seem like much…but the basic computer, or instance, costs less than 0.03 USD per hour to run! So you get quite a bit of processing for your ‘budget’. You can change the level of instance you are connected to and, depending on the power of the instance, the costs will increase more or less dramatically from the base instance. More on this later.

It should be noted that searching for data, compositing data and previewing the result of the searching and compositing do not count at all towards your monthly user budget!! You can do as much searching and testing of mosaicking as you want without charging your user account for processing time.

For more detailed instruction, please see the Tutorials section below!

What else can we do???


SEPAL 2.0 utility is expanded with user-contributed PROCESSING MODULES available through the ‘Processing’ button (e.g. the wrench).
Check out the kind of processing options available by clicking on ‘the wrench’…

Here we have access to:

RStudio - just general use of RStudio for anything you want to do with RStudio but with the processing power of the computing instance you select… Accuracy Assessment Design - a module to design a map accuracy assessment for raster or vector maps Accuracy Assessment Analysis - a module to analyze the results of a map accuracy assessment SAR Toolkit - a module for query and processing of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data GEO-processing (BETA) - a module to perform geo-processing on data you have in your workspace Visualize (BETA) - a very very basic module to view what you’ve processed

Each module starts an Amazon instance (basic) if one is not already running and processing time will be charged to your user account. If an Amazon instance is already started, then the modules will be run on the existing instance. It may take a few moments for a processing module to start if a new instance has to also be started simultaneously.

The Terminal

The terminal can be used to start instances, terminate instances and perform LINUX command-line functions on your workspace.
Start a Terminal by clicking on the symbol. You will be given the option to start an Amazon instance (with associated processing power and price per hour) or will be asked to join an existing session if one is available.

To terminate an instance go the terminal and type ‘exit’ at the command prompt. Then hit ‘ENTER’. You will be asked if you want to rejoin the session or ‘TERMINATE’ it. Press ’t’ to terminate and hit enter. The remote instance will shut down and you are FREE!!!

This is all I can include at the moment in the way of an introduction to the SEPAL platform. Please feel free to give it a try and e-mail me with comments or questions at Or…better yet…post your question or suggestion to our support community at Then we can all learn from each other.


How to get started building data in SEPAL

Change Detection in SEPAL...thanks to the United States Forest Service and the USAID CARPE Program

How to perform a stratified area estimation in SEPAL

A GOFC/GOLD video on how to use SEPAL...

Another GOFC/GOLD video on stratified area estimation in SEPAL

How to use the SEPAL Open SAR Kit

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