Sea Surface Temperatures: MODIS vs model

January 8th, 2009 |
MODIS Sea Surface Temperature + RTG-SST model analysis

MODIS Sea Surface Temperature + RTG-SST model analysis

AWIPS images of the MODIS Sea Surface Temperature (SST) product at 16:22 UTC on 08 January 2009 and the closest corresponding RTG-SST model analysis at 00:00 UTC on 09 January (above) demonstrated some important advantages of the 1-km resolution MODIS satellite imagery for the analysis of small-scale water temperature details. The two obvious warm water features on the MODIS image were (1) a portion of the Gulf of Mexico Loop Current, and (2) the axis of the Gulf Stream over the far western Atlantic Ocean (off the Southeast US coast). While the RTG-SST model analysis did a good job with the placement of the position of the axis of the Loop Current, it was unable to capture many of the subtle water temperature structures and eddies that were present. In particular, note that the MODIS SST image displayed water temperatures that were slightly cooler (75-76º F) in the core of the Loop Current plume, which was surrounded by warmer SST values of 77-78ºF. The RTG-SST model analysis placed the “bulls-eye” of the warmest SST values just southwest of Buoy 42054, where the MODIS image indicated that the pocket of slightly cooler SST values were located.

The RTG-SST model analysis also appeared to have placed the axis of the Gulf Stream a bit far to the east.

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