CoastWatch/OceanWatch satellite data that are utilized for ecosystem monitoring include sea surface temperature, ocean color, sea surface salinity and sea surface height.

Sea surface temperature is used to monitor habitat changes for temperature sensitive species and for monitoring changes in ocean currents, upwelling and stratification that impact nutrient regimes and the spatial distribution of ecosystems.

Ocean color is used to monitoring the distribution of seagrasses, mangroves and other ecologically important ecosystems. Ocean color is also used to monitor sediment plumes and estimate optically important water constituents such as color dissolved organic matter, phytoplankton pigments and detritus.

Sea surface salinity measurements are important for monitoring coastal ecosystems such as bays and estuaries that are strongly impacted by riverine inputs.

Sea surface height is used to monitor sea level rise impacts on coastal ecosystems

Saharan Dust and its Impacts


  Winds blowing across the Sahara Desert send large clouds of dust that travel thousands of miles to the Atlantic Ocean or Mediterranean Sea. The growth of phytoplankton, microscopic plants at the base of the ocean food chain, is restricted by iron availability.  When Saharan dust is blown into the ocean, phytoplankton use the iron and nutrients from the dust and begin to grow and reproduce.


Improving Satellite Sea Surface Temperature Analysis


  Information about sea surface temperature is important for weather and ocean forecasting, climate monitoring, military and defense operations, ecosystem assessment, fisheries analyses and tourism operations. NOAA's Sea Surface Temperature Team is working to improve their products by reanalyzing past data with NOAA's Advanced Clear-Sky Processor for Oceans (ACSPO) using the enterprise algorithm. 


Ocean acidification in the Caribbean


  In collaboration with the NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory's Ocean Chemistry and Ecosystems Division and NOAA Coral Reef Watch, the Caribbean/Gulf of Mexico node of CoastWatch produces an ocean acidification product suite for the greater Caribbean region to track changes in the surface ocean that can be used as an important tool in coral reef research and management.