Working like thermometers in the sky, these satellites measure SST on an ongoing basis. For example, Envisat's AATSR uses infrared wavelengths to acquire SST for a square kilometre of ocean to an accuracy of 0.2C. Other satellites may have decreased accuracy or resolution by comparison, but make up for it with cloud-piercing microwave abilities or much larger measuring 'footprints'.
Medspiration combines data from all these sensors to produce a reliable set of SST data, suitable for assimilation into ocean forecasting models of the waters around Europe and also the whole of the Atlantic Ocean (to a spatial resolution of ten square kilometres). SST is an important variable for weather forecasting and is increasingly seen as a key indicator of the extent of climate change.
Overall results from the Medspiration project feed into an even more ambitious scheme to combine all available SST data into a worldwide high-resolution product known as the Global Ocean Data Assimilation Experiment (GODAE) High-Resolution Sea Surface Temperature Pilot Project (GHRSST-PP).
Its aim is to deliver to the user community a new generation of highly accurate worldwide SST products with a spatial resolution of less than ten kilometres every six hours.
"Interpolated SST maps are of fundamental importance to improve marine weather forecasts," says Rosalira Santoleri of the Italian National Research Council (CNR), part of the Medspiration team. "They are operationally assimilated into numerical models and allow a better ini
Contact: Mariangela D'Acunto
European Space Agency