Warm water eddies in the western Atlantic Ocean

April 16th, 2008 |

MODIS sea surface temperature (SST) product

AWIPS images of the MODIS sea surface temperature (SST) product on 16 April 2008 (above) displayed some interesting warm water eddy structures (green to yellow colors) over the western Atlantic Ocean, not far off the coast of the Mid-Atlantic states. A comparison with the SST analysis field from the High Resolution Real Time Global (RTG_SST_HR) model less than 6 hours later (at 00:00 UTC on 17 April) demonstrated the advantage of the 1-km resolution MODIS data for resolving the small-scale detail in the structure of warm water eddies; even the magnitude and placement of the largest warm eddy (in the middle 60s F or 18-20º C, light green colors) was incorrectly depicted by the RGT_SST_HR model. On the other hand, the model did do a fairly good job of portraying the warm plume of the Gulf Stream (denoted by the yellow to orange colors in the bottom center of the image).