Satellites & Bleaching

Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Remote Sensing

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Intro to Remote Sensing  |  What Is Remote Sensing?  |
  Electromagnetic Spectrum  |  NOAA Satellites  |  Satellite Parameters |
  Measuring Sea Surface Temperature from Satellites
coral reef scene

Satellite sea surface temperature (SST) data from June 2006. Click the image for a larger view and more information.

The connection might not be immediately obvious, but the NOAA satellites that orbit around the earth are a crucial tool in monitoring the environmental conditions that cause coral bleaching. How can a satellite that is 850km (530 miles) above the ocean help the coral colonies that grow below the surface? On board some of these satellites is a critical sensor called the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer, or AVHRR. This sensor measures the radiation that comes from the surface of the earth, including the ocean, allowing us to monitor the sea surface temperature (SST). Because the satellites orbit around the earth, NOAA measures SST around the entire globe every day. Please read on for more information about remote sensing, NOAA's satellite systems, and how these satellites measure the temperature of the ocean surface.

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