Dataset Summary
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Science Quality Sea Surface Temperature from MODIS/Aqua

Program: NASA Earth Observing System
Spacecraft: Aqua
Sensor: Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)
Data Stream: Recorder LAC
Primary Geophysical Parameter: Sea Surface Temperature
Nominal Accuracy: ±1 degree Celsius
Spatial grid: 0.05 degrees longitude by 0.05 degrees latitude, geographic
Spatial coverage: Global; 180W to 180E Longitude, 75S to 75N Latitude
Temporal Coverage: Jan, 2003 - present
FGDC Metadata     Data Quality Act Documentation
Short Description:
CoastWatch offers sea surface temperature measurements from the MODIS sensor on NASA's Aqua spacecraft. The Science Quality SST concentration product is an improved version of the near real time SST products. The improvements in processing, however, lead to a processing delay ranging from days to weeks. SST is processed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Information on the Aqua satellite, the MODIS sensor, and NASA's processing of MODIS SST can be found on NASA's OceanColor Web.
Technical Summary:
Water leaving radiances are gathered by the MODIS sensor and processed to sea surface temperature by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Older data is processed using an algorithm developed by University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (Brown and Minnett, 1999). Information on this processing can be found at Goddard's MODIS-Ocean page. This processing is being taken over by Goddard's Ocean Biology Processing Group (OBPG). Information on the OBPG's processing of MODIS SST can be found at The OBPG's processing of MODIS SST shows excellent agreement with the prior version of SST processing by UM's Rosenstiel School. CoastWatch uses source data from daytime passes only, which is available with a higher quality cloud-mask than data from nighttime passes. The science quality data set is processed on a delayed schedule, to ensure the use of more accurate parameters in the atmospheric correction.

Data are made available at approximately 5.5km resolution for the global oceans. MODIS SST is accurate to within ±1 degree Celsius, and SST values are validated by comparison with buoys temperature data from the National Data Buoy Center. The data are mapped to an equal angle grid (0.05 degrees latitude by 0.05 degrees longitude) using a simple arithmetic mean to produce composite images of various images (1, 8-day).
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 and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, OceanColor Web.
References and suggested citations:
Brown, O.B. and P.J. Minnett. 1999. MODIS Infrared Sea Surface Temperature Algorithm, Version 2.0. Algorithm Theoretical Basis Document, ATBD25. University of Miami, Miami, FL. Under Contract Number NAS5-31361.

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