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Satellite Oceanography and Climatology Division (SOCD)

photo: CoralReefWatch Team
The Coral Reef Watch mission is to utilize remote sensing and in situ tools for near-real-time and long term monitoring, modeling and reporting of physical environmental conditions of coral reef ecosystems. Our satellite data provide current reef environmental conditions, especially the monitoring of sea surface temperature at global scales, to quickly identify areas at risk for coral bleaching, providing researchers and stakeholders with tools to understand and better manage the complex interactions leading to these events.
photo: Ocean Color Science Team
The Ocean Color Research Team at NOAA/NESDIS/STAR seeks to develop improved ocean color products from the current and future ocean color satellite sensors including the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS), the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the both Terra and Aqua, and the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (SNPP) and the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS), as well as various satellite sensors from other countries, e.g., the Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS), Geostationary Ocean Color Imager (GOCI), Ocean Land Colour Instrument (OLCI), Second-Generation Global Imager (SGLI), etc.
photo: Ocean Surface Vector Winds Team
The primary objective of the Ocean Surface Winds Team (OSWT) is to provide science support for remotely-sensed ocean surface wind products through product development, validation, improvement and user education and outreach. Its objective is to improve utilization of these data within NOAA and to provide guidance and support in planning for current and future missions. The OSWT works closely with operational forecasters in the NWS and other parts of NOAA, and thus, much of its research, development and validation is in support of the near real-time product stream. In support of these activities OSWT operates several near real-time satellite product processing systems and supports the Ocean Winds flight experiment program with the NOAA P-3 aircraft.
NOAA OceanWatch
NOAA OceanWatch was established in 1987 in response to two major environmental events: a Harmful Algal Bloom occurred off the coast of North Carolina, and more than 700 bottlenose dolphins died along the mid-Atlantic coast. These events prompted the government to explore additional avenues for monitoring coastal waters, including satellite data. CoastWatch has expanded from POES/AVHRR SST data for the East Coast to providing environmental satellite data covering all U.S. coastal waters. Today, sea surface temperature maps support weather prediction and inform commercial and recreational activities. Biologists utilize ocean color data, derived chlorophyll-a and total suspended matter/ turbidity products to predict HABs; and maritime operators use ocean surface vector winds for navigation.
Sea Ice Science Team
The Sea Ice Science Team is composed of participants from the STAR/SOCD Laboratory for Satellite Altimetry, the U.S. National Ice Center, and external collaborators from academia. In addition to remote sensing research on sea ice characterization and applications development, the team is interested in other cryospheric topics including snow over sea ice and land, lake ice, icebergs, and ocean-ice shelf interaction. The team also contributes leadership and expertise to the international Arctic and Antarctic buoy programs and provides advice to NOAA, Navy, the U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies on global cryospheric issues with particular focus on the development and implementation of strategies for the Arctic region. Sites include: National Ice Center, MASIE, and LSA Sea Ice Site.
Sea Surface Height Team
Research activities of Sea Surface Height Science Team include monitoring and understanding sea level rise, creating near real time altimetry products, improving altimetric bathymetry, and developing new techniques for Delay-Doppler/SAR processing. The team analyzes/calibrates data from Jason-2 and Jason-3 radar altimeter missions, which will continue the 20 year global sea level record. Near real-time sea surface height, wave height, and wind speed are used to determining ocean currents, monitoring sea level, and assimilating into models to improve forecasts of El Niño and hurricane intensity. Other activities aim to develop the most accurate and complete global bathymetry dataset from altimeter and ship measurements.
Sea Surface Roughness Team
The goal of the Sea Surface Roughness Science Team is to research, develop, demonstrate, and operationally implement oceanographic products derived from satellite synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data. These products include: SAR-derived winds and wind climatology; hurricane and storm morphology, swell wave parameters; oil spill maps; vessel and marine debris detection; oil platform, coastline, and bathymetry change detection; ice masking and classification; atmospheric boundary layer phenomena; and internal waves. More information at: STAR SOCD Water Surface Conditions / Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Products.
Sea Surface Salinity Team
The Sea-Surface Salinity Science Team, led by Dr. Eric Bayler is an open forum that encourages development of a satellite SSS community of practice and includes cross-NOAA representation, as well as participation from NASA, including the Aquarius mission's leadership, and Navy. Within NOAA, the SSS Science Team maintains a repository of the current version of all Level-2 data from NASA's Aquarius mission and ESA's Soil Moisture - Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission, as well as select Level-3/4 gridded products. This data is available for NOAA research, development, and transition to operations. NOAA's developmental satellite SSS Level-3/4 gridded products are available via the NOAA CoastWatch/OceanWatch website.
Sea Surface Temperature Team
The Sea Surface Temperature Team is responsible for the development, science maintenance and validation of various Level 2, 3 and 4 SST products from current and future polar and geostationary satellites. We work with our partners in the NOAA Office of Satellite Products and Operations (OSPO), to generate high-quality SST products and satisfy needs of NOAA and external users, in the areas of climate monitoring, seasonal forecasting, operational weather and ocean forecasting, military and defense operations, validating of ocean and atmospheric models, ecosystem assessment, tourism, and fisheries. We also participate in the international Group for High Resolution SST.

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The Satellite Oceanography and Climatology Division (SOCD) provides the research and development of remote sensing data on the world's oceans, and calibrates instruments, verifies the data, and creates products to meet the needs of users for satellite data and other information on the oceans.

The three branches of the Division (Ocean Sensors, Ocean Physics, and Marine Ecosystems), and the Science Teams do research in observing sea surface temperature, sea surface winds, sea surface height, ocean color, sea ice, and sea surface roughness. The Teams then transfer the results of their research into operational practice.

The Division transforms satellite data into high-quality, state-of-the-art products and information on the oceans. Examples include using ocean color to locate and identify harmful algal blooms ('red tides'); observing the roughness of the sea-surface for locating sea ice and its extent; measuring ocean surface winds in support of weather forecasts; and analyzing sea surface temperature and sea surface height for hurricane predictions. Ocean data and products are available from the Division's NOAA CoastWatch, NOAA OceanWatch, and NOAA Coral Reef Watch. The Division's activities and goals are cross-cutting, supporting all the NOAA Mission Goals.