Thermal infrared images from Earth-orbiting satellites can be used to remotely
determine the temperature of oceans and
Such studies of the eastern
Pacific Ocean are invaluable in making long-term weather predictions, and
provided advanced warning of the
El Nino event
before the North American winter of 1998. These predictions were particularly
useful in California, which received torrential rains and heavy snow. With
the warnings, however, various governmental agencies were able to plan and
cope with the heavy storms.
Sea surface temperatures are used to study how much heat the ocean receives
from solar irradiation. Moreover, it reveals how much carbon dioxide the
ocean absorbs, in important element in understanding global warming. Infrared
data are used to study the large-scale movement of ocean currents and for
monitoring breaking waves in the open sea, an indicator of stormy seas.
Infrared satellite images are used to determine the location and movement of
icebergs in the polar oceans.
Finally, ocean temperatures maps are a valuable tool for commercial and hobby
fishermen. Game fish normally prefer to stay in waters within a well-defined
temperature range. Ocean temperature data from infrared satellite detectors
provide information on potential areas for catching certain types of fish --
and on areas to avoid.