Real-Time, High-Resolution, Space–Time Analysis of Sea Surface Temperatures from Multiple Platforms

Lazarus, Steven M.; Calvert, Corey G.; Splitt, Michael E.; Santos, Pablo; Sharp, David W.; Blottman, Peter F.; Spratt, Scott M.
September 2007
Monthly Weather Review;Sep2007, Vol. 135 Issue 9, p3158
Academic Journal
A sea surface temperature (SST) analysis system designed to initialize short-term atmospheric model forecasts is evaluated for a month-long, relatively clear period in May 2004. System inputs include retrieved SSTs from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-East and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). The GOES SSTs are processed via a sequence of quality control and bias correction steps and are then composited. The MODIS SSTs are bias corrected and checked against the background field (GOES composites) prior to assimilation. Buoy data, withheld from the analyses, are used to bias correct the MODIS and GOES SSTs and to evaluate both the composites and analyses. The bias correction improves the identification of residual cloud-contaminated MODIS SSTs. The largest analysis system improvements are obtained from the adjustments associated with the creation of the GOES composites (i.e., a reduction in buoy/GOES composite rmse on the order of 0.3°–0.5°C). A total of 120 analyses (80 night and 40 day) are repeated for different experimental configurations designed to test the impact of the GOES composites, MODIS cloud mask, spatially varying background error covariance and decorrelation length scales, data reduction, and anisotropy. For the May 2004 period, the nighttime MODIS cloud mask is too conservative, at times removing good SST data and degrading the analyses. Nocturnal error variance estimates are approximately half that of the daytime and are relatively spatially homogeneous, indicating that the nighttime composites are, in general, superior. A 30-day climatological SST gradient is used to create anisotropic weights and a spatially varying length scale. The former improve the analyses in regions with significant SST gradients and sufficient data while the latter reduces the analysis rmse in regions where the innovations tend to be well correlated with distinct and persistent SST gradients (e.g., Loop Current). Data thinning reduces the rmse by expediting analysis convergence while simultaneously enhancing the computational efficiency of the analysis system. Based on these findings, an operational analysis configuration is proposed.


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