Introduction to SEPAL#

Learn the basics of the platform and how to access features

In this article, learn to:

  • navigate the interface

  • use the functionalities of the platform

Prequisities include:

  • internet access

  • SEPAL account (see Register)

Access SEPAL#

  1. Go to

  2. Select Launch.

  3. Enter your username and password.

  4. Select Login.


When working in SEPAL, do not use your browser’s Back function. Instead, use the buttons within the SEPAL interface to navigate to previous pages. In some instances, you may find an arrow in the upper-left or upper-right corner of the interface to navigate to a previous window.

Select language preference#

Choose a language for your SEPAL environment by following the instructions in the video below.


Language preferences can always be changed from the platform’s launch page

The default language in SEPAL is English; however, other languages are available (currently French and Spanish).

To change the language to either French or Spanish:

  1. Go to

  2. Select Launch.

  3. In the upper-right corner, select EN, ES or FR (English, Spanish and French, respectively).

SEPAL interface#


After logging in, you will see the following screen.

On the left, there are four main navigation buttons in the vertical Tabs bar (from top to bottom):

  • Process: Select imagery and create mosaics.

  • Files: Navigate through your personal SEPAL folders, where you can download, delete and visualize data using the Data visualization link.

  • Terminal: Access the command line for the LINUX server.

  • Apps: Follow links to a variety of preloaded tools.

Below the vertical Tabs bar – on the left – is another button:

  • Tasks: View a list of currently running tasks.

In the lower-right corner there are four buttons (from right to left):

  • Log out from SEPAL (displayed as a door with an arrow)

  • User details (displayed as your username)

  • User report (displayed as $ 0/h)

  • User messages (displayed as a bell)

In the User details pop-up window, you can:

  • view and edit user account information (e.g. name, password, email, organization; username can not be edited); and

  • link your GEE and SEPAL accounts by selecting Use my own Google account and following the instructions.

If your GEE and SEPAL accounts are connected, SEPAL uses your Google Drive as a temporary storage space for data downloaded to your SEPAL workspace (e.g. any imagery tiles or mosaics that you “retrieve to SEPAL workspace” will first be saved to your Google Drive account before being saved in your SEPAL workspace).

If your GEE and SEPAL accounts are not linked, data downloads to your SEPAL workspace will still be possible and the data will pass through SEPAL’s Google Drive account.


Unlinking your GEE and SEPAL accounts for downloading to SEPAL workspace may help if you do not have sufficient space available in your personal Google Drive.

Linking your GEE and SEPAL accounts will allow you to read and write from your GEE assets. To save data created in SEPAL as a GEE asset or to use your existing GEE assets in classifications or further processing in SEPAL, you will need to have your GEE and SEPAL accounts linked.


Link your SEPAL and GEE accounts in order to read and write to GEE assets from SEPAL.

In the User report pop-up window, you can view the status (used/available) of your processing and storage resources:

  • Instance spending refers to the resources used/available to start and run cloud computers;

  • Storage spending and Storage space refer to the resources used/available for storage in your SEPAL workspace; and

  • Sessions refers to any processes in your current session, if you are running any.


SEPAL should not be used for long-term data storage, as this is costly. The platform is best used by storing only the data necessary for processing. After processing and producing a product, data should be downloaded to your personal computer and deleted from SEPAL storage.


In the vertical Tabs bar on the left, select the Process button.

You should now see many options in the centre of the screen:

  • Optical mosaic: Create a mosaic using Landsat and/or Sentinel-2 data (for guidance, see Exercise 1.2).

  • Radar mosaic: Create a mosaic using Sentinel-1 data.

  • Planet mosaic: Create a mosaic using NICFI–Planet basemaps (if you have permission from NICFI-Planet).

  • Classification: Use a random forest model to classify images from SEPAL or GEE (for guidance, see Module 2).

  • Time series: Download time series information to your SEPAL storage.

  • CCDC: Create a Continuous Change Detection and Classification (CCDC) asset from a time series.

  • CCDC slice: Create a slice of a CCDC asset for a specific date or date range.

  • Class change: Create a class change map from two categorical images (either SEPAL recipes or GEE assets).

  • Index change: Create an index change map from two single-band images (either SEPAL recipes or GEE assets).

  • Remapping: Remap categorical or continuous image bands into new categories.

When you select one of these options, a new tab will open with the graphical user interface (GUI) that allows you to specify your desired options.


In the vertical Tabs bar on the left, select the Files button to display all files stored in your SEPAL workspace.

For example, select the Downloads folder to display the folders containing any of the data you have downloaded in SEPAL. If you have not downloaded mosaics in SEPAL yet, this folder will be empty.

In the upper right, there are four buttons (from left to right; the three right-most buttons will be inactive until you select a file):

  • The first button will show hidden files (files and folder names starting with .).

  • The second button will download selected data to your local computer.

  • The third button will delete the selected folder or file.

  • The last button will clear your selection.


In the vertical Tabs bar on the left, select the Terminal button.

This links you to the Linux command line that you can use in a variety of ways to manage data, load data from an outside location or process data using a series of commands.

When you initially load the Terminal, you will see information about your usage and the available types of instances you can initialize.

One of the most important features of the Terminal is the ability to start and stop instances.

To start an instance:

  1. Examine the Available instance types table (updated periodically; see example from September 2020 below).

  2. Choose an Instance type that fits your needs (normally, a t2 instance or m2 instance is sufficient and cost-effective).

  3. Next to Select (t1), enter t2 (or your chosen instance type).

  4. Press Enter on your keyboard and wait for the instance to start, which will take several minutes.

To stop an instance:

  • enter exit into the command line (you can then refresh the terminal page to start a new instance); or

  • open your User report by selecting the $ 0/h icon in the lower-right corner, then selecting the trashcan icon under Sessions.

Once an instance has stopped, you can follow the instance start-up steps again to select a larger instance, if necessary.


In the vertical Tabs bar on the left, select the Apps button to display applications accessible through SEPAL (for more information about each app, select the rightmost i button).

Applications are preprogrammed (typically using R or Python) to perform specific useful tasks, making use of instances (running them will use your SEPAL computing resources).

Some of the apps include:

  • R Studio: Provides access to the R environment, where you can run processing scripts and upload data to your SEPAL folder.

  • JupyterLab: Provides access to the Python environment where you can run complex data workflows.

  • BFAST GPU: Graphics processing unit (GPU) implementation of the Breaks for Additive Season and Trend (BFAST) algorithm to analyse time series.

  • Deforestation alert analysis: Retrieves any type of alert on a selected area of interest (AOI).

  • MGCI: Calculates Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15.4.2: Mountain Green Cover Index (MGCI) at national/subregional scale.

  • SMFM Biota: Calculates biomass change over time using ALOS PALSAR data (SMFM refers to Satellite Monitoring for Forest Management).

For more information on available apps, see Modules.

Last updated on Dec 18, 2023.