Dataset Summary
West Coast Regional Node

Home | Information | Data | El Niño | Software | Sites | Feedback | About Us

Oceanic Front Probability Index

Program: NOAA Geostationary-orbiting Operational Environmental Spacecraft (GOES)
Spacecraft: GOES-11 and GOES-12
Sensor: GOES Imager
Primary Geophysical Parameter: Oceanic Front Probability
Nominal Accuracy: N/A
Spatial grid: 0.05 degrees longitude by 0.05 degrees latitude, geographic
Spatial coverage: 180W to 30W longitude; 45S to 60N latitude
Temporal Coverage: 2001 - present
FGDC Metadata     Data Quality Act Documentation
Short Description:
The CoastWatch Oceanic Front Probability Index measures the probability of sea surface temperature front formation based on data from NOAA's GOES satellites. Fronts play an important role in upper ocean processes. Fronts can impact ocean fisheries, for example, by influencing the spatial distribution of biological productivity and by controlling the accumulation of marine debris, which serves as a beacon to higher trophic levels. The Oceanic Front Probability Index is an EXPERIMENTAL dataset, distributed for scientific evaluation.
Technical Summary:
CoastWatch generates the frontal probability index from the GOES SST dataset. Daily average SST is generated from the GOES data. Fronts are identified by applying an edge detection algorithm to this daily averages SST field (Breaker et al., 2005). Pixels with gradients greater than 0.375 degrees C per pixel are classified as a front. The probability index is then calculated as the number of times a pixel is classified as a front divided by the number of cloud free days for the given time period. Days when the pixel is cloudmasked do not count towards this calculation.

Initial data validation was performed by comparing the data to in situ observations by a research ship on a California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) cruise. Additional evaluation and validation is in progress by a number of organizations (e.g. Castelao et al., 2006).

The data are mapped to an equal angle grid (0.05 degrees latitude by 0.05 degrees longitude) to produce composite images of various durations (e.g., 5-day, 10-day, 14-day, and monthly).
Despite our best efforts, incorrect data may often appear within near real time data sets. NOAA CoastWatch accepts no liability for use of these data products. It is recommended that these products NOT be used for navigation.
If this data is used for presentation or publication, please acknowledge the NOAA CoastWatch Program.
References and suggested citations:
Breaker, L. C., T. P. Mavor, and W. W. Broenkow. 2005. Mapping and monitoring large-scale ocean fronts off the California Coast using imagery from the GOES-10 geostationary satellite, Publ. T-056, 25 pp., California Sea Grant College Program, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla. (Available at

Castelao, R. M., J. A. Barth, and T. P. Mavor. 2005. Flow-topography interactions in the northern California Current System observed from geostationary satellite data, Geophys. Res. Lett., 32, L24612, doi:10.1029/2005GL024401.

^ Back to main page Privacy Policy | USDOC | NOAA | NESDIS | CoastWatch