Global Microwave Satellite Observations of Sea Surface Temperature for Numerical Weather Prediction and Climate Research

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Obtaining global sea surface temperature (SST) fields for the ocean boundary condition in numerical weather prediction (NWP) models and for climate research has long been problematic. Historically, such fields have been constructed by a blending of in situ observations from ships and buoys and satellite infrared observations from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) that has been operational on NOAA satellites since November 1981. The resolution of these global SST fields is limited by the sparse coverage of in situ observations in many areas of the World Ocean and cloud contamination of AVHRR observations, which can exceed 75% over the subpolar oceans. As clouds and aerosols are essentially transparent to microwave radiation, satellite microwave observations can greatly improve the sampling and resolution of global SST fields. The Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer on the NASA Earth Observing System (EOS) Aqua satellite (AMSR-E) is providing the first highly accurate and global satellite microwave observations of SST. The potential for AMSR-E observations to improve the sampling, resolution, and accuracy of SST fields for NWP and climate research is demonstrated from example SST fields and from an investigation of the sensitivity of NWP models to specification of the SST boundary condition.

College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon

Remote Sensing Systems, Santa Rosa, California

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Dudley B. Chelton, College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, 104 COAS Administration Building, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331-5503, E-mail: chelton@coas.oregonstate.edu

Obtaining global sea surface temperature (SST) fields for the ocean boundary condition in numerical weather prediction (NWP) models and for climate research has long been problematic. Historically, such fields have been constructed by a blending of in situ observations from ships and buoys and satellite infrared observations from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) that has been operational on NOAA satellites since November 1981. The resolution of these global SST fields is limited by the sparse coverage of in situ observations in many areas of the World Ocean and cloud contamination of AVHRR observations, which can exceed 75% over the subpolar oceans. As clouds and aerosols are essentially transparent to microwave radiation, satellite microwave observations can greatly improve the sampling and resolution of global SST fields. The Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer on the NASA Earth Observing System (EOS) Aqua satellite (AMSR-E) is providing the first highly accurate and global satellite microwave observations of SST. The potential for AMSR-E observations to improve the sampling, resolution, and accuracy of SST fields for NWP and climate research is demonstrated from example SST fields and from an investigation of the sensitivity of NWP models to specification of the SST boundary condition.

College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon

Remote Sensing Systems, Santa Rosa, California

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Dudley B. Chelton, College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, 104 COAS Administration Building, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331-5503, E-mail: chelton@coas.oregonstate.edu
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