Gridded Climate Variables for Model Intercomparison

September 13, 2012

PO.DAAC is pleased to announce that it will distribute three gridded satellite datasets to facilitate climate model evaluation. They include variables for Sea Surface Temperature (SST), Absolute Dynamic Topography (ADT), and ocean surface vector winds.   These observational datasets are on monthly 1° grids with various time series lengths.  They were generated with the initial intention to facilitate the intercomparison of satellite derived observations with climate model outputs from CMIP5 (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5) under the World Climate Research Program (WCRP).  However, their utility extends beyond climate model evaluation.  Each climate variable contains the data, number of observations, and the standard deviation for each bin on the grid.  Documentation and read software are available for these datasets in the same location as the data.  The documentation explains the contents of the dataset, how it was calculated and how the errors were calculated. All of these datasets are available via ftp, OPeNDAP, THREDDS (see below for links), and LAS.  LAS is the Live Access Server that allows for visualization, subsetting, and cursory analysis.  LAS is located at

The SST (fig. 1) dataset is derived from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) instrument onboard the NASA Aqua satellite, a passive-microwave radiometer that sees through most clouds, and was created by Remote Sensing Systems ( .  The data start in July 2002 and end December 2010.

                                                      Figure 1. AMSR-E SST from the month of April 2009.

ADT, the sea surface height relative to the geoid (the mean ocean surface of the Earth if the ocean is at rest) (fig. 2), is derived from TOPEX/Poseidon, Envisat, Jason-1, and OSTM/Jason-2.  This dataset was generated by AVISO.  The data start in October 1992 and end in December 2010.


                                                   Figure 2.:  ADT during April 2009, blended from TOPEX/Poseidon, Envisat, Jason-1 and/or OSTM/Jason-2.

Ocean surface vector winds (fig. 3) are derived from the NASA QuikSCAT mission and contain wind speed, and meridional and zonal wind vector components.  This dataset was created by the QuikSCAT project at Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  The data start in August 1999 and end in October 2009.

  • Dataset information pages:

                                                    Figure 3.: QuikSCAT wind speed during September 2005.