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Through a satellite darkly: Night views of European seas improve ESA ocean heat map

The Mediterranean looks better in the dark - at least in the view of an ESA-led effort to use satellites to take the daily temperature of Europe's seas. A switch to data acquired at night is one of several improvements undertaken to enhance reliability and reach of Medspiration project outputs.

With sea surface temperature (SST) an important variable for weather and ocean forecasting - and increasingly seen as a key indicator of climate change the concept behind Medspiration is to combine data from multiple satellite systems to produce a robust set of sea surface data for the waters around Europe and also the whole of the Atlantic Ocean. Medspiration products are designed for near-real time ingestion into numerical ocean forecasting models to keep their outputs 'coupled' to reality, in the same way as numerical weather prediction (NWP) atmospheric models ingest satellite and in-situ results to enhance the overall accuracy of weather forecasts.

An ultra high-resolution sea surface temperature map focused on the Mediterranean Sea with an accuracy of less than 0.3 C is being made available daily.

Medspiration products have been available to users since November 2004, but significant quality enhancements came about in January 2006, including two sq. km coverage being extended out into the Atlantic to match the grid of a major ocean forecasting model run by Italy's National Institute for Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV) and funded by the European Commission, known as the Mediterranean Forecasting System Towards Environmental Predictions (MFSTEP).

New Medspiration product is also now available on a same-day basis: the daily analysis is now centred on the start of the current day instead of midday of the previous day, with the daily generation time being stretched back to 18:00 instead of 07:00 UTC.

And significantly, only satellite data acquired during local night are now being utilised for the product. Satellite instrumen
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Contact: Mariangela D'Acunto
mariangela.dacunto@esa.int
39-069-418-0856
European Space Agency
17-Mar-2006


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