Satellites & Bleaching

50-km SST Product

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50-km SST Product  |  Time Series Graphs
satellite sst

Shown here is an example 50-km Sea Surface Temperature (SST) product map. Click the image for more information and a larger view of the latest near-real-time 50-km SST data.

The main Sea Surface Temperature (SST) product is quite straightforward: it shows the present ocean temperature around the world. The data for the 50-km SST product come from the AVHRR sensor on NOAA's polar-orbiting satellites. Coral Reef Watch uses only nighttime data to derive the 50-km SST product, to avoid the solar heating of the near-surface skin interface during the day. The 50-km SST product is updated in near-real-time twice-weekly.

The temperature scale is shown along the bottom of the image, and goes from -2 to 34 degrees Celsius. Areas covered by sea ice are colored white and land is colored black. The ice coverage is also measured from NOAA satellites.

The spatial resolution of the data for the 50-km SST product is one-half degree. That means that the data are shown in "pixels" (picture elements) which are approximately 50 kilometers (~30 miles) on each side. This obviously covers an area larger than most coral reefs. However, our products are designed to detect bleaching conditions in the ocean that occur at the same scale as weather patterns. Think about it this way: you can be pretty sure that the air temperature 50 km away from your house will be about the same as outside your home. It is even more reliable for ocean temperatures because the SST changes more slowly than the weather.

You can see near-real-time images of the global 50-km SST on the Coral Reef Watch website. We also produce animations of the 50-km SST data over the last 2 to 6 months.

Try our hands-on 50-km SST exercises to learn more about this product.

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