Sea surface temperature from MODIS
- Coverage, spatial and temporal resolution
- Data quality
- Contact person
- Data citation
RESTRICTED: This link to the data set is only available for a restricted user group. The data set is only accessible in CEN/MPI net or accessible from external nets with a customer account. Please contact ICDC if you would like to access this data from outside the network.
- View daily and monthly SST data at LAS: AQUA | TERRA
- Access daily and monthly SST data via OPeNDAP
- AQUA Data access via file system: /data/icdc/ocean/modis_aqua_sst
- TERRA Data access via file system: /data/icdc/ocean/modis_terra_sst
Here we offer level-3 data of the SST based on MODIS collection 6 data from the v2014.0 / since 07/2019 from the v2019.0 reprocessing.
Similar to AVHRR, MODIS data can be used to retrieve sea surface temperatures (SST). Briefly, radiative transfer theory is used to correct for the effects of the atmosphere on the observations by utilizing "windows" of the electromagnetic spectrum where little or no atmospheric absorption occurs like (for MODIS) channels 31 & 32. Channel radiances are transformed (through the use of the Planck function) to units of temperature, then compared to a-priori (in situ) temperatures for algorithm development. Adjustments to skin temperature are made through comparisons with in situ radiometer measurements. More information is given in the documents listed in the references
Principally, we offer SST data from MODIS sensors aboard both EOS-AQUA and EOS-TERRA satellites; currently we do have online only the data from EOS-TERRA, though.
The data offered here are based on MODIS Collection C006 data and and the reprocessing v2019.0.
Last update of data set at ICDC: December 29, 2022.
|SST quality flag, day||-||Give basically information|
|SST quality flag, night||-||about cloud coverage|
Coverage, spatial and temporal resolution
Period and temporal resolution:
- Daily: 2002-07-03 (EOS-AQUA) or 2000-02-25 (EOS-TERRA) to 2022-09-30 (AQUA) or 2022-08-31 (TERRA)
- Monthly: 2002-07 (EOS-AQUA) or 2000-02 (EOS-TERRA) to 2022-09 (AQUA) or 2022-08 (TERRA)
Coverage and spatial resolution:
- Spatial resolution: 4.6 km x 4.6 km, cartesian climate modeling grid, Cylindrical Equal Angle Projection
- Geographic latitude: -89.9792°N to 89.9792°N
- Geographic longitude: -179.979°E to 179.979°E
- Dimension: 8640 columns x 4320 rows
- Altitude: 0.0 m
Missing monthly data: AQUA: 2015/01 to 2015/05.
Unfortunately, beginning with the v2019.0 reprocessing, quite some data based on the overpasses during the day are missing while those based on overpasses during the night are complete. For time-series analysis we recommend therefore to use the night-time data only; this is advisable anyways thanks to the reduced influence of the diurnal cycle when taking night-time data.
The data set does not include uncertainty estimates; the quality flags provided basically give some information about the cloud cover status. The accuracy of the SST is given as 0.4 K; we recommend to take a look at the references.
Details about the reprocessing that led to the new version v2014 of these Level-3 SST data can be found at the NASA Ocean Color Website Technical Documents, see references.
Details about Level-2 quality flags and how these were used for Level-3 processing can be found at the NASA Ocean Color Website Technical Documents. Please note that SST and chlorophyll-a concentration retrieval share the same quality flags.
We note that this is a daily product with fine spatial resolution. Because SST retrieval is only possible over cloud-free areas the data offered here have large data gaps due to cloud cover. The user might reduce the number of gaps by combining the SSD-day and SST-night estimates. The user should be aware, however, that in regions with large solar irradiation diurnal changes can be substantial. We recommend therefore to use the SST data of the nighttime satellite overpasses. Combining TERRA and AQUA products might also help to reduce data gaps.
We note that the quality of the SST estimates is limited by the quality of the cloud mask used to produce this data set. Generally problematic are areas with fog and thin cirrus clouds as well as cloud shadows.
We would not recommend this data set for long-term SST studies. However, this data set is consistent with the MODIS chlorophyll-a concentration data set which is the main reason - together with the fine spatial resolution - why we offer this SST data set in addition to the other SST data sets.
University of Miami/Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences
email: revans (at) rsmas.miami.edu
University of Miami/Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences
email: pminnett (at) rsmas.miami.edu
ICDC / CEN / University of Hamburg
email: stefan.kern (at) uni-hamburg.de
- Kilpatrick, K. A., et al., 2015, A decade of sea surface temperature from MODIS, Remote Sensing of Environment, 165, 27-41. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2015.04.023
- Gentemann, C. L., 2014, Three way validation of MODIS and AMSR-E sea surface temperatures, J. Geophys. Res. - Oceans, 119, 2583-2598. https://doi.org/10.1002/2013JC009716
- Kilpatrick, K. A., et al., 2014, Implementation of Version 6 AQUA and TERRA SST processing, White paper, University of Miami, March 2014, 14 pp. (pdf, not barrier-free)
- Haines, S. L., 2007, A MODIS sea surface temperature composite for regional applications, Trans. Geosci. Rem. Sens., 45, 2919-2927. doi:10.1109/tgrs.2007.898274. https://doi.org/10.1109/tgrs.2007.898274
- Liu, Y., and P. J. Minnett, 2016, Sampling errors in satellite derived infrared sea-surface temperatures. Part I: Global and regional MODIS fields. Rem. Sens. Environ., 177, 48-64. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2016.02.026
- Walton, C.C., W. G. Pichel, and J.F. Sapper, 1998, The development and operational application of nonlinear algorithms for the measurement of sea surface temperatures with the NOAA polar-orbiting environmental satellites, Journal of Geophysical Research, 103: (C12) 27999-28012. https://doi.org/10.1029/98JC02370
- ATBD: Brown, O.B., and P.J. Minnett, 1999, MODIS Infrared Sea Surface Temperature Algorithm Theoretical Basis Document, Version 2.0, http://modis.gsfc.nasa.gov/data/atbd/atbd_mod25.pdf (pdf, not barrier-free)
- NASA Ocean Color, Technical Documents, https://oceancolor.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/technical/
- NASA Ocean Color, http://oceancolor.gsfc.nasa.gov/
Data citation, License, and Acknowledgments
Please cite the data as follows:
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Ocean Ecology Laboratory, Ocean Biology Processing Group. Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Terra Sea Surface Temperature Data; v2019 Reprocessing. NASA OB.DAAC, Greenbelt, MD, USA. https://oceandata.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov [Last access: November 28 2022] provided with time variable by the Integrated Climate Data Center (ICDC), CEN, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
If you use EOS-AQUA instead of EOS-TERRA data please replace Terra and TERRA with Aqua and AQUA, respectively.
and with the following acknowledgments:
Thanks to ICDC, CEN, University of Hamburg for data support.
Usage and distribution of the data has to follow: https://science.nasa.gov/earth-science/earth-science-data/data-information-policy/ and https://science.nasa.gov/earth-science/earth-science-data/data-information-policy/data-rights-related-issues