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Satellite Information

NERACOOS displays a variety of satellite information:

Clicking any of the links below will take you to Dr. Andrew Thomas's website at the University of Maine’s Satellite Oceanography Data Laboratory. Dr Thomas directs the satellite program for NERACOOS and provides a variety of products covering the whole Gulf of Maine:

  1. NOAA's AVHRR (Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer)
    Sea surface temperature (Standard cloud mask)
    Sea surface temperature (Enhanced cloud mask)
    Sea surface temperature daily climatology products
    Sea surface temperature weekly and monthly climatology products
    Sea surface temperature weekly and monthly anomaly products
    1. Measures ocean surface temperatures under cloud-free conditions
    2. Spatial resolution: 1.1 km
    3. Frequency of images: 4-6 per day
  2. NASA's MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer)
    Sea surface temperature
    Ocean Color (Chlorophyll)
    1. Measures ocean surface temperatures and near-surface ocean phytoplankton biomass (amount of plant material in the ocean) under cloud-free conditions
    2. Spatial resolution: 1.0 km
    3. Frequency of images: 1 per day

    True Color

    1. The data represent what the Gulf of Maine would look like to the naked eye from the satellite view point.
    2. Spatial resolution: 250m
  3. NASA's SeaWiFS (Sea-viewing Wide Field of View Sensor)
    Ocean Color (Chlorophyll)
    Ocean Color weekly and monthly climatology products
    Ocean Color weekly and monthly anomaly products
    1. Measures near-surface ocean phytoplankton biomass (amount of plant material in the ocean) under cloud-free conditions
    2. Spatial resolution: 1.1 km
    3. Frequency of images: 8-day composite of daily images
  4. NASA's SeaWinds instrument on board the QuikSCAT satellite
    Winds
    1. Measures the speed and direction of near-surface winds, under all weather conditions.
    2. Spatial resolution: 0.25 degree
    3. Coverage Frequency: twice a day

Satellite information can be used:

  • By mariners to visualize large-scale wind patterns
  • By fishermen to identify favorable fishing areas
  • By marine emergency response teams to map local surface current and wind patterns
  • By aquaculturists to help select suitable growing areas
  • By fisheries managers to study links between harvestable resources and oceanographic processes
  • By coastal environmental managers to help understand oceanographic processes operating in their local area
  • By oceanographers to study ocean currents, temperature fronts, the amounts of phytoplankton (an indication of how productive the ocean is) and wind patterns. Two important aspects are relationships between these parameters and changes in both time and space in each.

Benefits/limitations of satellite information:

Satellites provide information about the entire northeast region instantaneously. This is impossible to duplicate with ships or buoys. Satellite data complement the NERACOOS buoy program by providing information at locations other than the ten buoy sites. By sampling repetitively over many years, time series of satellite data allow studies of seasonal cycles and interannual differences. However, there are also some limitations to the information. Satellites see only the ocean surface. Subsurface conditions must be collected by other kinds of instruments from ships or mounted on buoys. Also, clouds and fog obscure both visible (ocean color) and infrared (temperature) information. For these reasons NERACOOS integrates data from a wide suite of instruments (satellites, buoys and ships) to provide the best possible coverage of marine conditions in the northeast.

For more information about satellite products please visit the University of Maine's Satellite Oceanography Data Laboratory.