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Science. 2000 May 5;288(5467):847-50.

Satellite measurements of sea surface temperature through clouds

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Remote Sensing Systems, 438 First Street, Suite 200, Santa Rosa, CA 95401, USA. College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.


Measurements of sea surface temperature (SST) can be made by satellite microwave radiometry in all weather conditions except rain. Microwaves penetrate clouds with little attenuation, giving an uninterrupted view of the ocean surface. This is a distinct advantage over infrared measurements of SST, which are obstructed by clouds. Comparisons with ocean buoys show a root mean square difference of about 0.6 degrees C, which is partly due to the satellite-buoy spatial-temporal sampling mismatch and the difference between the ocean skin temperature and bulk temperature. Microwave SST retrievals provide insights in a number of areas, including tropical instability waves, marine boundary layer dynamics, and the prediction of hurricane intensity.

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