Error Characteristics of Satellite-observed Sea Surface Temperatures in the Northeast Asian Sea

북동아시아 해역에서 인공위성 관측에 의한 해수면온도의 오차 특성

  • Published : 2008.06.30


An extensive set of both in-situ and satellite data regarding oceanic sea surface temperatures in Northeast Asian seas, collected over a 10-year period, was collocated and surveyed to assess the accuracy of satellite-observed sea surface temperatures (SST) and investigate the characteristics of satellite measured SST errors. This was done by subtracting insitu SST measurements from multi-channel SST (MCSST) measurements. 845 pieces of collocated data revealed that MCSST measurements had a root-mean-square error of about 0.89$^{\circ}C$ and a bias error of about 0.18$^{\circ}C$. The SST errors revealed a large latitudinal dependency with a range of $\pm3^{\circ}C$ around 40$^{\circ}N$, which was related to high spatial and temporal variability from smaller eddies, oceanic currents, and thermal fronts at higher latitudes. The MCSST measurements tended to be underestimated in winter and overestimated in summer when compared to in-situ measurements. This seasonal dependency was discovered from shipboard and moored buoy measurements, not satellite-tracked surface drifters, and revealed the existence of a strong vertical temperature gradient within a few meters of the upper ocean. This study emphasizes the need for an effort to consider and correct the significant skin-bulk SST difference which arises when calculating SST from satellite data.


sea surface temperature;satellite;accuracy;error characteristics


  1. McClain, E.P., Pichel, W.G., and Walton, C.C., 1985, Comparative performance of AVHRR-based multichannel sea surface temperature. Journal of Geophysical Research, 90, 3655-3661
  2. McMillin, L.M., 1975, Esimation of sea surface temperatures from two infrared window measurements with different absorption. Journal of Geophysical Research, 80, 5113-5117
  3. Park, K.A., Ullman, D.S., Kim, K., Chung, J.Y., and Kim, K.R., 2007, Spatial and temporal variability of Satelliteobserved Subpolar Front in the East (Japan) Sea. Deep Sea Research (Part I), 54, 453-470
  4. Park, K.A., Chung, J.Y., Kim, K., Choi, B.H., and Lee, D.K., 1999, Sea surface temperature retrievals optimized to the East Sea (Sea of Japan) using NOAA/ AVHRR data. Marine Technology Society Journal, 33, 23-35
  5. Wentz, F.J., Gentemann, C., Smith, D., and Chelton, D., 2000, Satellite measurements of sea surface temperature through clouds. Science, 288, 847-850
  6. Vazquez, J., Tran, A., Sumagaysay, R., Smith, E.A., and Hamilton, M., 1995, NOAA/NASA AVHRR Oceans Pathfinder Sea Surface Temperature Data Set User's Guide Version 1.2. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Technical Report, 53 p
  7. Strong, A.E. and McClain, E.P., 1984, Improved ocean surface temperatures from space comparisons with drifting buoys. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 65, 138-142<0138:IOSTFS>2.0.CO;2
  8. Walton, C.C., 1988, Nonlinear multichannel algorithms for estimating sea surface temperature with AVHRR satellite data. Journal of Applied Meteorology, 27, 115-124<0115:NMAFES>2.0.CO;2
  9. Donlon, C.J., Nightingale, T.J., Sheasby, T., Turner, J., Robinson, I.S., and Emery, W.J., 1999, Implications of the oceanic thermal skin temperature deviation at high wind speed. Geophysical Research Letters, 26, 2505-2508
  10. Yashayaev, I.M. and Zveryaev, I.I., 2001, Climate of the seasonal cycle in the North Pacific and the North Atlantic. International Journal of Climatology, 21, 401- 417
  11. Walton, C.C., Pichel, W.G., Sapper, J.F., and May, D.A., 1998, The development and operational application of nonlinear algorithms for the measurement of sea surface temperatures with NOAA polar-orbiting environment satellites. Journal of Geophysical Research, 103, C12, 27999-28012
  12. Barton, I., 1995, Satellite-derived sea surface temperature: Current status. Journal of Geophysical Research, 100, 8777-8790
  13. Prabakahara, C., Dalu, G., and Kunde, V.G., 1974, Estimation of sea surface temperature from remote sensing in the 11-13 $\mu$m window region. Journal of Geophysical Research, 79, 5039-5044

Cited by

  1. Implications of sea surface temperature deviations in the prediction of wind and precipitable water over the Yellow Sea vol.116, pp.D17, 2011,
  2. A Study of the Effects of SST Deviations on Heavy Snowfall over the Yellow Sea vol.23, pp.2, 2013,
  3. Calculation of Surface Heat Flux in the Southeastern Yellow Sea Using Ocean Buoy Data vol.19, pp.3, 2014,
  4. Long-term comparison of satellite and in-situ sea surface temperatures around the Korean Peninsula vol.50, pp.1, 2015,
  5. Study on the temporal and spatial variation in cold water zone in the East Sea using satellite data vol.32, pp.6, 2016,