Strategies for the laboratory and field deployment of ship-borne fiducial reference thermal infrared radiometers in support of satellite-derived sea surface temperature climate data records

Craig J. Donlon, Peter J Minnett, Nigel Fox, Werenfrid Wimmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


The sea-surface temperature (SST) climate data record (CDR) can be derived using combined SST measurements derived from multiple thermal infrared and passive microwave-measuring satellite instruments, each having specific positive and negative characteristics. A variety of ground-based measurements are available, from a number of different measurement platforms, that could be used to validate and verify the satellite SST CDR and measurements derived from component missions. An important attribute of ship-borne thermal infrared (TIR) radiometers provide measurements that can be considered fully traceable to Systeme International (SI) primary standards. Such measurements are essential to quantify uncertainties in the satellite-derived SST CDR and are a fundamental component of a satellite mission. For these reasons, they are considered Fiducial Reference Measurements (FRM). This chapter is concerned with the coordinated preparation, deployment, and reporting of ship-borne TIR radiometers using laboratory and ship-borne field measurements that can be used to verify realizations of the SST CDR. The published accuracy and stability requirements for the SST CDR are interpreted in terms of a ship-borne radiometer network and measurement protocols that are required to fulfill those requirements. The requirements and approach to generating uncertainty budgets and estimates for ship-borne FRM TIR radiometers are discussed in the context of the satellite SST CDR. Chapter 3.2 is dedicated to the validation of ship-borne radiometer performance using laboratory reference radiance sources and SI transfer radiometers. To complement laboratory activities at sea, intercomparisons of ship-borne radiometers in an end-to-end manner are described and discussed. Finally, future prospects for a ship-borne FRM TIR radiometer network are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)557-603
Number of pages47
JournalExperimental Methods in the Physical Sciences
StatePublished - 2014



  • Climate data record
  • Fiducial reference measurements
  • Primary standards
  • Sea-surface temperature
  • Ship-borne radiometer
  • Systeme International
  • Thermal infrared
  • Validation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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