NOAA 99-R320
Contact: Pat Viets


Those who track ocean features now have near real-time, high-resolution data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's polar-orbiting environmental satellites.

NOAA's CoastWatch program, which maps the coastal oceans daily, relocated a satellite antenna and installed enhanced hardware and software to ensure unobstructed near real-time access to high-resolution images of sea-surface temperatures. Images available from this location in Miami will cover the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, northern South America and Central America, and the entire Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean.

The installation of the hardware and software was done by the SeaSpace Corporation of San Diego under contract with NOAA. "Daily sea surface temperature products will be available from the CoastWatch Caribbean Regional Node Web site within hours of acquisition," said Kent Hughes, manager of the CoastWatch program in Suitland, Md. "This information is used by a variety of people – meteorologists, fisheries scientists, environmental managers, and commercial and recreational fishermen. The improvements we've made means that they can routinely use these products to accurately detect and track ocean features."

The satellite data also are used by various NOAA agencies to support severe weather forecasting, fisheries research and management, and regional ocean and coastal science projects. Imagery will also be produced in coastal areas both before and after hurricane passage to assist in evaluating the impact of hurricanes at landfall. Future use could include studying wild fires, volcanoes and volcanic ash clouds.

The antenna and software were installed at NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) in Miami, where scientists are studying hurricanes, ocean current and temperature structures, ocean/atmosphere chemical exchanges, and the coastal ocean. CoastWatch data will be used to supplement data collected by research ships and aircraft, volunteer observing ships, radar, acoustics, drifting buoys, and other types of instrumentation as well as numerical and statistical models.

The antenna was moved from the Tropical Prediction Center of the National Weather Service on the campus of Florida International University where, because of the configuration of satellite antennae on the roof, the CoastWatch antenna was blocked. AOML's Miami facility provides a far less obstructed view. AOML, one of NOAA's 12 environmental laboratories, was also selected because it is a test site for the new QuikSCAT winds algorithims. The QuikSCAT satellite provides all-weather, high- resolution measurements of near surface winds over the global oceans. These data will be used in numerical weather prediction models and by marine forecasters to improve general weather forecasting, high seas marine forecasting and ocean storm warning and monitoring.

Support for NOAA CoastWatch and the establishment of the project in Miami comes from NOAA's Ocean Remote Sensing Program managed in the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service's Office of Research and Applications/Ocean Research and Applications Division.

NOAA's mission is to describe and predict changes in the Earth's environment and to conserve and manage wisely the nation's coastal and marine resources.