Construction of a climate data record of sea surface temperature from passive microwave measurements

Emy Alerskans*, Jacob L. Høyer, Chelle L. Gentemann, Leif Toudal Pedersen, Pia Nielsen-Englyst, Craig Donlon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


A statistical regression-based microwave sea surface temperature (SST) retrieval algorithm has been developed within the European Space Agency Climate Change Initiative (ESA-CCI) SST project. The retrieval algorithm was used to generate a climate data record (CDR) of passive microwave (PMW) SST from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer – Earth Observing System (AMSR-E) and its follow-on instrument AMSR2 for the period June 2002–October 2017. Multisensor Matchup Datasets (MMDs), which includes satellite orbital data collocated with in situ and auxiliary data, was used to derive consistent algorithms for AMSR-E and AMSR2. The retrieval algorithms consist of wind speed (WS) retrievals and SST retrievals, with corresponding uncertainty retrievals. The WS retrieval consists of a two-step regression model, where the second step is a localized algorithm, trained to perform well over restricted WS intervals. A two-step multiple linear regression retrieval with localized algorithms is used to retrieve SST. The first-stage algorithm is trained to perform well over restricted latitude intervals for ascending and descending orbit, respectively, whereas the second-stage retrieval uses localized SST and WS algorithms. Furthermore, a new and effective method for detecting and screening for Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) was developed.
Validation of the PMW SSTs against drifter in situ SSTs shows an overall bias of −0.02 K for quality level (QL) 4 and 5 AMSR-E retrievals with a standard deviation of 0.46 K. Validation results for QL 4 and 5 AMSR2 retrievals against drifter in situ SSTs give a bias of 0.002 K and a standard deviation of 0.45 K. The corresponding mean modelled SST uncertainties, including in situ and sampling uncertainties, are estimated to 0.45 K for QL 4 and 5 AMSR-E retrievals and 0.44 K for QL 4 and 5 AMSR2 retrievals. Validation against near-surface temperature measurements from Argo floats yielded comparable results, confirming the drifting-buoy validation. The validation results demonstrate a consistent PMW SST CDR with accurate SST observations and reliable uncertainty estimates.
Original languageEnglish
Article number111485
JournalRemote Sensing of Environment
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Remote sensing
  • Microwave
  • AMSR-E
  • AMSR2
  • Sea surface temperature
  • Climate data record


Dive into the research topics of 'Construction of a climate data record of sea surface temperature from passive microwave measurements'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this