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Skin and Bulk SST Validation Program

Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington

  [Link to UW website]


[Link to CIRIMS Design]



[Link to Thru-hull System]

Temperature System


[Link to Reports]

Publications, Reports and Presentations


Recent Updates



There is a growing consensus that sea surface temperature (SST) products derived from satellite-based infrared (IR) sensors should include ocean skin temperature. The skin temperature is the most relevant temperature for air-sea fluxes and it corresponds directly to the measured radiance. Skin SST is now a required product of the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS). In order to validate satellite-based measurements of skin temperature, widespread, in situ data are required.

NASA EOS Validation Program: 1997-2002
In 1997, we began development of an autonomous shipboard radiometer system to measure skin SST under sponsorship from the NASA EOS Validation Program. The Calibrated InfraRed In situ Measurement System, or CIRIMS was designed to provide skin SST with accuracy of +/- 0.1 C for validation of SST from MODIS. Three CIRIMS units were fabricated and deployed on 8 cruises for over 733 days at sea. Three cruises included side-by-side comparison with the M-AERI, which is the primary in situ validation instrument for MODIS. The result of this project was demonstration of the reliability and accuracy of the CIRIMS under a wide range of at-sea conditions.

NOPP Skin SST Demonstration Project: 2003-2005
The National Ocean Partnership Program (NOPP) has recently awarded a grant to demonstrate the feasibility of an operational system to develop a satellite-based skin SST product (FY02 NOPP SST Topic, BAA 02-011). As part this project, we are deploying two CIRIMS units continuously for two years. The first unit was deployed on the NOAA R/V Ronald H. Brown in June 2003 and the second unit will be installed on the UW R/V Thomas G. Thompson in November 2003.

Through-the-Hull Bulk Temperature System
In conjunction with the NOPP award, we have installed two through-the-hull instrument ports on the Brown at depths of 2 m and 3 m below the mean still water line. The ports are located directly above the ship's existing 5 m intake port in the bow thruster room. The ports have been instrumented with two SeaBird model SBE-39 Temperature/Pressure sensors to provide temperature at depths intermediate between the ship's standard intake depth of 5 m and the CIRIMS skin SST.

We gratefully acknowledge financial support from NASA, NOPP, and the Applied Physics Laboratory. We are also grateful for the support we have received from the various ships we have used, especially the Brown.

Please address any comments or questions to Andy Jessup.



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Cruise Maps, Deployments and Data Plots

[Link to Photos]


[Link to Data Archive]

Data Archive






  • Last updated on
    August 8, 2006

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