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Validation and application of MODIS-derived SST in the South China Sea

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Using a variety of in situ sea surface temperature (SST) data sets in the South China Sea, we validate the satellite-derived SST from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). Analysis of a large number of match-up samples during 2008–2012 shows that the MODIS SSTs have biases ranging from –0.19°C to –0.34°C and standard deviation (STD) errors ranging from 0.58°C to 0.68°C. Specifically, mean biases are all negative but there are smaller cool biases in daytime than those in night-time. The monthly validation analysis shows that the biases exhibit apparent seasonal variations. The biases in daytime have relatively small magnitudes in spring and summer, while the negative biases in night-time are most apparent in summer. On the other hand, the time series of MODIS SSTs may exhibit an evident diurnal variation for some months, which roughly agrees with the in situ SST measurements. This study also highlights that the MODIS SSTs under cloud-free conditions are effective at detecting the high-frequency and small-scale oceanic features, such as the localized diurnal variation, oceanic front, and coastal upwelling.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: State Key Laboratory of Tropical Oceanography (LTO), South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou, China 2: Department of Geophysics, Graduate School of Science, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan

Publication date: June 18, 2014

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