Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Igor Belkin, Ph.D.
Graduate School of Oceanography
University of Rhode Island

Satellite oceanography of fronts: a review

Wednesday — May 29, 2013
Pacific Forum — 3:00 p.m.

The last decade saw proliferation of observational studies of ocean fronts from in situ and remote sensing data. This presentation is focused on recent progress in this field, particularly on satellite observations. Several satellite missions presented great potential for frontal studies. This potential has been largely realized with regard to SST fronts, but not CHL fronts. Among such missions, the NOAA Pathfinder Project, SeaWiFS, MODIS/Aqua and MODIS/Terra stand out. All-weather sensors, e.g. AMSR-E, allowed large-scale fronts to be observed despite inherently low resolution of microwave sensors. The ultimate success of frontal studies from satellite data hinges on state-of-the-art computer algorithms for front detection. The Cayula-Cornillon histogram algorithm (CCA) remains the top-notch front detector. Alternative algorithms have been suggested, implemented and validated, particularly the Vazquez-Shimada entropy algorithm (VSA) and Belkin-O’Reilly gradient algorithm (BOA), the latter being adopted by NOAA. Frontal maps derived from CHL imagery by BOA will become freely and publicly available from NOAA in June-July 2013.


Next: June 10—Stephan Klapp, Ph.D.