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Sea Surface Currents Estimated from Spaceborne Infrared Images Validated against Reanalysis Data and Drifters in the Mediterranean Sea

Journal article
Authors Céline Heuzé
Gisela Carvajal
Leif E.B. Eriksson
Monika Soja-Wozniak
Published in Remote Sensing
Volume 9
Issue 5
Pages 422
ISSN 2072-4292
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of marine sciences
Pages 422
Language en
Keywords AVHRR; sea surface currents; infrared
Subject categories Remote sensing, Oceanography


Near-real time sea surface current information is needed for ocean operations. On a global scale, only satellites can provide such measurements. This can be done with data from infrared radiometers, available on several satellites, thus giving several images a day. This work analyses the accuracy of such an estimation of surface current fields retrieved with the maximum cross correlation (MCC) method, here used to track patterns of Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) brightness temperature between 224 pairs of consecutive images taken between January and December 2015 in the western Mediterranean Sea. Comparison with in-situ drifters shows that relatively small patterns, moving at a slow speed, tracked between images separated by less than four hours give the best agreement. The agreement was strongest in summer, and consistent with low wind, non-eddying situations. When compared to a daily reanalysis field, the averaged satellite-retrieved fields showed good agreement, but not the in-situ drifter data. Drifter data should hence be used to complement satellite-retrieved currents rather than to validate them, since they may measure different components of the surface currents.

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