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Plunge into warmer waters this summer with ESA's Mediterranean heat map

Summer in Europe means time for the beach. Testing the waters is a traditional holiday ritual: a swift hand or foot in the surf to check sea temperature. Or there is the modern approach a flotilla of satellites identifying the warmest parts of all 2 965 500 square kilometres of the Mediterranean on a daily basis.

An updated map of the sea surface temperature (SST) of the world's largest inland sea is generated every day as part of ESA's Medspiration project, with an unprecedented spatial resolution of two square kilometres, high enough to detect detailed features like eddies, fronts and plumes within the surface temperature distribution.

The animation above shows the last six months in the life of the Mediterranean, right up to yesterday, as the waters warm up from the depths of winter to the start of summer.

"Every day at 1200, a two-kilometre resolution map of SST is produced over the whole of the Mediterranean sea, " explains Gilles Larnicol of Medspiration partner CLS (Collecte Localisation Satellites). " This is the first time such a fine resolution has been reached, and a large number of satellite sensors are involved in the analysis method based on optimal interpolation. Medspiration uses data from six different sensors two European, two American and two Japanese.

"The animation shows the winter cooling of SST that propagates eastward. Superimposed on this large-scale seasonal signal, we can also clearly observe the signature of well-known medium-sized or 'mesoscale' structures.

"These include the Alboran gyre found east of Gibraltar and eddies in the Algerian and Levantine basins, in the west and east Mediterranean respectively. Lastly, the high resolution of the products allows us to detect small features such the discharge of the Po River into the Adriatic, which evolves as a steep coastal current along the Italian coastline."

Medspiration utilises data from the Advanced Along Track Scanning Radiomete
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Contact: Mariangela D'Acunto
mariangela.dacunto@esa.int
39-06-941-80-856
European Space Agency
13-May-2005


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