Free NOAA CoastWatch On Demand Tutorial at Oceans 2020 Virtual Meeting!

Oceanography from Space for Everyone: Demystifying Satellite Data for Users

On Demand Content Available October 5-30, 2020

Live Q&A Tuesday, October 13

NOTE: You must be registered for the Oceans 2020 Virtual Conference to access this free on-demand tutorial.

Presenters: Dr. Veronica Lance, Michael Soracco, & Dr. Melanie Abecassis
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (USA)


In the value chain of progressing from data to information to applications and knowledge, observations of surface ocean and coastal water properties by satellite remote sensing are significant components for many operational applications, modeling and data assimilation activities, and scientific investigations that assess, monitor and predict the physical, biological, and biogeochemical states of the marine environment. For the open ocean, many key environmental parameters are determined on a routine and sustained basis from well-validated algorithms including sea surface temperature, sea surface height, ocean color, sea ice, ocean winds, and roughness of the ocean surface (e.g., oil spills), providing frequent and synoptic coverage. Retrievals in coastal, near-shore and inland waters continue to be an area of active research and development, but many products are fit for purpose and ready for use in observation-based marine applications. Gaining access to and utilizing these satellite data and data products can be daunting to the non-specialist, however. This tutorial will i) review current status and availability of mature, operational satellite observations for the ocean and coasts; ii) provide information on emerging satellite-derived products; iii) illustrate use of these data through representative case studies; and iv) highlight methods for the discovery and acquisition of satellite data, including a demonstration of the NOAA CoastWatch/OceanWatch/PolarWatch data portal and a group discussion on solutions to the barriers (real or perceived) that constrain more routine utilization of satellite observations. Time will be allocated for participants to explore data portals and interact with the tutorial team to request guidance, suggest downstream data products and/or give feedback, etc.

This tutorial is primarily aimed toward decision-makers, managers, engineers and researchers (public, private, commercial) who would like to consider incorporating ocean and coastal satellite observations into their applications and services but who need to learn the basics or get beyond obstacles they may have encountered.

Core Learning Objectives:

  • understand basic terminology, available parameters, and trade-offs of data types in the ocean/earth-observing satellite world
  • get hands-on practice and receive practical guidance for accessing satellite data products for specific projects
  • provide feedback and suggestions for the development of downstream products to facilitate participants specific applications and services
  • meet key contacts at NOAA CoastWatch/OceanWatch/PolarWatch with whom participants can follow up.

Dr. Veronica Lance is Program Scientist for the NOAA CoastWatch/OceanWatch/PolarWatch Program and is trained as a biological oceanographer with a PhD from Duke University. Veronica’s research interests include the use of ocean satellite data to study phytoplankton and primary productivity. She serves as the conduit between the upstream satellite specialists and downstream users.

Michael Soracco is the HelpDesk Coordinator for NOAA CoastWatch/OceanWatch/PolarWatch.  He specializes in user access by developing and maintaining data products, the data portal (and website) and runs the helpdesk.  Michael studied aerospace engineering for his B.AE at Georgia Institute of Technology and earned his Master’s degree in Business at Central Michigan University.  He served as a commissioned officer in the NOAA Corps servicing equatorial moored buoys, conducting coastal hydrographic surveys, and as an ocean remote sensing operations officer.  He has developed and taught the NOAA GIS course and is a fundamental source of the CoastWatch program’s “corporate memory.“

Dr. Melanie Abecassis is the Operations Manager for OceanWatch. Dr. Abecassis is a Marine Ecologist with a PhD from Universite Paul Sabatier (Toulouse III).  Melanie’s research interests include animal habitat modeling and using satellite data to reduce endangered species bycatch.


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