Ocean Dynamics

, Volume 61, Issue 6, pp 767-778

First online:

Comparison between satellite and in situ sea surface temperature data in the Western Mediterranean Sea

  • Aida Alvera-AzcárateAffiliated withAGO-GHER-MARE, University of LiègeF.R.S.-FNRS (National Fund for Scientific Research) Email author 
  • , Charles TroupinAffiliated withAGO-GHER-MARE, University of Liège
  • , Alexander BarthAffiliated withAGO-GHER-MARE, University of LiègeF.R.S.-FNRS (National Fund for Scientific Research)
  • , Jean-Marie BeckersAffiliated withAGO-GHER-MARE, University of Liège

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A comparison between in situ and satellite sea surface temperature (SST) is presented for the Western Mediterranean Sea during 1999. Several international databases are used to extract in situ data (World Ocean Database, MEDAR/Medatlas, Coriolis Data Center, International Council for the Exploration of the Sea and International Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set). The in situ data are classified into different platforms or sensors (conductivity–temperature–depth, expendable bathythermographs, drifters, bottles, and ships), in order to assess the relative accuracy of these type of data with respect to Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer SST satellite data. It is shown that the results of the error assessment vary with the sensor type, the depth of the in situ measurements, and the database used. Ship data are the most heterogeneous data set, and therefore present the largest differences with respect to in situ data. A cold bias is detected in drifter data. The differences between satellite and in situ data are not normally distributed. However, several analysis techniques, as merging and data assimilation, usually require Gaussian-distributed errors. The statistics obtained during this study will be used in future work to merge the in situ and satellite data sets into one unique estimation of the SST.


Sea surface temperature Data comparison Satellite In situ Mediterranean Sea