eoPortal News: Did you know?
Surfers, satellites and sea
25 July 2017
Measuring the temperature at the surface of the ocean is crucial to understanding its biological, physical and chemical environment. The sea surface temperature (SST) influences how gases move between the sea and the atmosphere, the distribution and feeding of marine animals such as fish, whales and seabirds, and may impact global and regional climates. Any changes in SST can have major effects on how the ocean behaves and on the life it sustains. Understanding the changing environment and the potential ramifications of climate change depends on accurate measurements and regular monitoring.
In the open ocean, satellites with specially tuned sensors are used to measure SST with coverage over large areas on a regular time frame; the reliability of these remote measurements is validated by many in situ observations from ships, autonomous sensor-bearing floats and other platforms. Perhaps surprisingly, closer to the coast the picture is less clear and due to a limited number of in situ measurements, little is known about the accuracy and precision of the satellite Earth observation (EO) data in the near shore region.
Coastal seas are ecologically and economically very important but they are highly variable and that variability makes it harder to get good measurements from satellites. Plymouth Marine Laboratory has been monitoring a wide range of environmental variables for decades through its regular sampling and autonomous collecting at the L4 and E1 stations, 7km and 33km off the coast of Devon, but measurements at the coast are much less frequent.
Image credit: PML - Scientists are combining our need for detailed measurements with their passion for surfing to fill gaps in our understanding of coastal seas and how they may change.