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Sentinel-3A feels the heat

Date:
April 6, 2016
Source:
European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT)
Summary:
Despite only being in orbit a matter of weeks, Sentinel-3A has already delivered some impressive first images. With the thermal-infrared channels now turned on, the satellite completes its set of firsts with a view of ocean features off the coast of Namibia.
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The first image from the Sentinel-3A Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer (SLSTR) thermal-infrared channels depicts thermal signatures over a part of western Namibia and the South Atlantic Ocean. This image shows the ‘brightness temperature’, which corresponds to radiation emitted from the surface. Further processing is needed to turn this into an actual temperature map. The Namibian land surface is shown in red–orange colours, corresponding to a temperature range 301–319 K. The blue colours over the ocean correspond to a temperature range of 285–295 K. The black areas correspond to clouds, which are opaque to thermal-infrared radiation and so prevent a view of the ocean or land surface. Cold water is seen along the Namibian coast that is upwelled from deeper waters. The Benguela current flows north along the west coast of South Africa driven by south-easterly winds forming coastal upwelling. Many eddies and meanders are generated in this complex system and these small-scale features are captured beautifully by SLSTR. Understanding changes in the pattern of these waters is important for fisheries, for example. In the top part of the image over the land, the distinct folds of desert dunes can be seen. In fact, further north, Gobabeb is the location of a land-surface temperature validation site – chosen because of its featureless arid nature and lack of vegetation. The site will be instrumental to monitor the accuracy of the SLSTR instrument during its mission.
Credit: Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data [2016], processed by ESA

Despite only being in orbit a matter of weeks, Sentinel-3A has already delivered some impressive first images. With the thermal-infrared channels now turned on, the satellite completes its set of firsts with a view of ocean features off the coast of Namibia.

Arguably the most comprehensive of all the Copernicus Sentinel missions, Sentinel-3A carries a suite of state-of-the-art instruments to systematically measure the temperature of Earth's oceans, land, ice and atmosphere.

Sentinel-3 measurements like this will be used to monitor and understand large-scale global dynamics and provide critical information for ocean and weather forecasting.

The Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer (SLSTR) is particularly sophisticated, measuring energy radiating from the Earth's surface in nine spectral bands.

By accurately measuring temperature changes, the radiometer will, for example, make an important contribution to monitoring large-scale events such as El Niño.

The very first images came from its optical channels. Before the thermal-infrared channels could be turned on they had to go through a decontamination process to ensure the highest-quality measurements.

The first image from these channels shows thermal signatures over a part of western Namibia and the South Atlantic Ocean.

This image shows the brightness temperature, which corresponds to radiation emitted from the surface. Further processing is needed to remove the effects the atmosphere and account for the characteristics of the surface to turn this into an actual surface temperature map.

Cold water is seen along the Namibian coast upwelling from deeper waters.

The Benguela current flows north along the west coast of South Africa driven by south-easterly winds creating coastal upwelling.

Many eddies and meanders are generated in this complex system and these small-scale features are captured beautifully. Understanding changes in the pattern of these waters is important for fisheries, for example.

Over land, the distinct folds of desert dunes can be seen. In fact, further north, Gobabeb is the location of a land-surface temperature validation site -- chosen because of its featureless arid nature and lack of vegetation.

The site will be instrumental to monitor the accuracy of the sensor during its mission.

Susanne Mecklenburg, ESA's Sentinel-3A mission manager, said, "It is still early days, but the data already look good and we are confident that we will be able to provide high-accuracy surface temperature products so that fine thermal structure both over land and over sea can be detected.

"It's extremely satisfying to see that all of the satellite's instruments are working well and we can be proud of the European industry and technology that makes it possible."

Hilary Wilson, EUMETSAT's Sentinel-3 Project Manager added, "It is very exciting to see all the small scale thermal features clearly captured in the Benguela region and this really demonstrates the potential of the Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer.

"With its dual view measurement capability, it will be used to derive accurate surface temperature, a key parameter at the ocean-atmosphere boundary. Therefore, it is important for both operational oceanography and meteorology, and ultimately for long term climate monitoring.

"We are now looking forward to being able to provide these data to the oceanography and meteorology communities, as well as to all citizens and decision-makers, for maximum data exploitation."

While the instrument's thermal channels will measure the temperature of the land and sea surface, it also includes dedicated channels for measuring fires.

This capability along with the satellite's Ocean and Land Colour Instrument will help to map carbon emissions from burnt biomass and to assess damage and estimate recovery of burned areas.


Story Source:

Materials provided by European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT). Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Cite This Page:

European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT). "Sentinel-3A feels the heat." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 April 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160406125203.htm>.
European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT). (2016, April 6). Sentinel-3A feels the heat. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160406125203.htm
European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT). "Sentinel-3A feels the heat." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160406125203.htm (accessed May 23, 2017).

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