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Combined remote-sensing, model, and in situ measurements of sea surface temperature as an aid to recreational navigation: crossing the Gulf Stream

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Combined in situ, model, and satellite remote-sensing observations are used to determine the location of the Gulf Stream as an aid to safe navigation for small recreational vessels.

A field study was executed from Hamilton, Bermuda, to Virginia Beach, USA, over a period of 5 days, from 30 June 2010 to 4 July 2010 to test the feasibility of using remote-sensing products as an aid to cross the Gulf Stream from the point of view of a small, slow-moving (˜6 knots, 3 m s−1) sailboat. The in situ data collected were compared to NASA Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Microwave Imager (TMI) remote-sensing data, to the Global High Resolution Sea Surface Temperature (GHRSST) microwave and infrared blended data set, to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Real-Time Ocean Forecast System (NOAARTOFS) ocean model, and to selected NOAA buoy and ship measurements.

A spatio-temporal analysis was performed by comparing the in situ measurements with observations retrieved at the same time and location in each of the data sets. The least error (correlation coefficient r = 0.94) was obtained using MODIS data, and the largest error (r = 0.78) was obtained using the RTOFS model data. Overall, most observations agree with the general spatio-temporal trend of the in situ data, with 95% of the errors within ±1°C and 98% of the errors within ±2°C.

The study shows that MODIS data are particularly suited to identification of the location of the Gulf Stream, which can be used by small vessels to optimize the crossing route and to minimize the risks associated with the passage.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography and Geoinformation Science,Center for Earth Observing and Space Research, George Mason University, Fairfax,VA, USA

Publication date: 2013-01-20

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