| An evaluation of the use of the Earth Resources Technology Satellite for observing ocean current boundaries in the Gulf Stream system - :12026 | Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR)
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An evaluation of the use of the Earth Resources Technology Satellite for observing ocean current boundaries in the Gulf Stream system
  • Published Date:
    1975
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An  evaluation of the use of the Earth Resources Technology Satellite for observing ocean current boundaries in the Gulf Stream system
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  • Personal Authors:
  • Corporate Authors:
    Environmental Research Laboratories (U.S.)
  • Description:
    Remote sensing of ocean color to locate current boundaries has been tested in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Infrared techniques fail there for several months of the year because surface thermal signatures are destroyed by summer insolation. A 1-year time history of the Gulf Loop Current has been made by ship in synchronization with the Earth Resources Technology Satellite (ERTS). Shipboard measurements of upwelling spectral irradiance show that the color change across the cyclonic boundary is associated with changes in chlorophyll-a concentrations and changes in the volume scattering function. Surface chlorophyll-a, temperature, and scattering observations show that color signature of the current is present when thermal indications are absent, and thus this flow can potentially be monitored by a combination of visible and infrared techniques. Shipboard observations indicate that seastate changes frequently occur at the cyclonic edge; this is recorded in ERTS images which show that the current's boundary can be detected by changes in either color or sea state. Theoretical spectra of upwelling irradiance confirm that surface reflectance changes due to meteorological conditions spectrally alter ERTS radiances. The gain settings for the satellite are not optimized for ocean radiances and hence computer enhancement of the data is required. The ship data demonstrate an annual cycle of growth, eddy separation, ind decay of the Gulf Loop Current, but this could not be reproduced with ERTS due to the 18-day orbit cycle and because the sensors were not designed for ocean radiance levels or spectral distributions. This research supports the concept that a visible multispectral scanner, which supplies at least daily observations, is capable of providing triweekly pathlines of the Gulf Loop Current.

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