“Sea Surface Temperature from ships to satellites”

by | Jul 20, 2023 | Climate Change, Ocean and Atmospheric Physics, Paleoclimatology, Using Data Sets

Alexey Kaplan

Youtube video of this session

Oct 16, 2021

Sea Surface temperature (SST) is a critical variable for analyses of climate variability and trends, for seasonal climate prediction, for understanding the impact of climate and environmental conditions on marine life, and for many other applications. The earliest available SST observations were made in the 1770s and have storied history, being made in 1772-1773 during the second voyage of James Cook or by Benjamin Franklin in 1775-1776. With the progress in the development of ocean instrumentation and measurement techniques, density and spatial coverage of in situ SST observations saw tremendous growth over time. Together with other in situ observations of the surface ocean, SST measurements are assembled in the constantly growing International Comprehensive Ocean – Atmosphere Data Set (ICOADS). In 1980s the accurate measurements of SST from space became possible, giving rise to a satellite era in the history of SST observations. Much higher density of satellite SST observations, compared to the in situ data, engendered the development of high resolution daily or sub-daily SST products, with 1-5 km spatial resolution for global maps and sub-kilometer resolution for regional products. To produce such maps, one needs to combine input from nearly all available sources of SST data, including in situ observations, which are used, typically for the calibration and validation of satellite data sets. Recent development of high resolution satellite SST data sets that are independent of in situ data made it possible to improve our understanding and statistical modeling of uncertainty in the modern in situ measurements (1992-2010), with the potential to use these improvements for better analyses of historical SST data in the pre-satellite period.


Additional Resources and Activities:





International Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set

Met Offic Hadley Centre observation data Set