News & Events

Satellite-based time-series of sea-surface temperature since 1981 for climate applications

A new paper has been published recording climate data of global sea surface temperature (SST) spanning 1981–2016 developed from 4 × 1012 satellite measurements of thermal infra-red radiance.

Sea surface temperature (SST) is an “essential climate variable1”. Applications of SST data include the evaluation of climate and ocean models, observational quantification of climate change and variability, process understanding and parameterisation, ocean ecology, oceanography and geophysics. SST has been measured in situ for over 150 years2, initially from ships and in recent decades from drifting and moored autonomous platforms. SST products derived from Earth-orbiting satellites are complementary to the in situ network, providing finer and more complete spatio-temporal sampling. Satellite SSTs are indirect measurements (“retrievals”), inferred from at-satellite radiances by an inverse method.

This paper presents a climate data record (CDR) of global SST spanning 1981–2016 derived from 4 × 1012 satellite measurements of thermal infra-red (TIR) radiance. The TIR measurements were collected by two series of sensors on Earth-orbiting satellites: 11 Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometers (AVHRRs) and three Along-Track Scanning Radiometers (ATSRs).

To read the full paper please click here.