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Richard Legeckis
Tong Zhu

The introduction of the 10-bit, five-band, multispectral visible and thermal infrared scanner on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's GOES-8 satellite in 1994 offers an opportunity to estimate sea surface temperatures from a geostationary satellite. The advantage of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) over the traditional Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer is the 30-min interval between images, which can increase the daily quantity of cloud-free ocean observations. Linear regression coefficients are estimated for GOES-8 by using the sea surface temperatures derived from the NOAA-14 polar-orbiting satellite as the dependent variable and the GOES infrared split window channels and the satellite zenith angle as independent variables. The standard error between the polar and geostationary sea surface temperature is 0.35°C. Since the polar satellite sea surface temperature is estimated within 0.5°C relative to drifting buoy near-surface measurements, this implies that the GOES-8 infrared scanner can be used to estimate sea surface temperatures to better than 1.0°C relative to buoys. Daily composites of hourly GOES-8 sea surface temperatures are used to illustrate the capability of the GOES to produce improved cloud-free images of the ocean. Hourly time series reveal a 2°C diurnal surface temperature cycle in the eastern subtropical Pacific with a peak near 1200 LT. The rapid onset of coastal up welling along the southern coast of Mexico during December of 1996 was resolved at hourly intervals.

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Richard Legeckis
William Pichel
, and
George Nesterczuk

Geostationary satellite observations of a zonally oriented sea surface temperature front in the eastern equatorial Pacific were made between 1975 and 1981. Long waves appeared along the front mainly during the summer and fall, except during 1976, the year of an El Niño. The waves have averaged periods of 25 days and wavelengths of 1000 km. At the end of 1981, the long waves also were detected in a new sea surface temperature analysis based on multichannel infrared measurements from a polar-orbiting satellite. This quantitative analysis may improve the ability to resolve low-frequency equatorial wave motions from satellite observations.

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