A review of satellite-based microwave observations of sea surface temperatures

Kohtaro Hosoda

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Satellite-based microwave radiometers can measure sea surface temperature (SST) over wide areas, even under cloud cover, owing to the weak absorption of microwaves by cloud droplets. This advantage is not available in the case of infrared observations, hence SST data derived from microwave radiometers have been widely used for operational and research purposes in recent years. This paper reviews the significant algorithms, validations, and applications related to microwave observation of SST. The history and specifications of past and present microwave radiometers are also documented. Various physical properties, including sea surface salinity, sea surface wind, molecules in the atmosphere, and clouds, affect the accuracy of SST data estimated by satellite-based microwave radiometers. Estimation algorithms are designed to correct these effects by using microwave measurements in several frequency channels and by using data of ancillary geophysical parameters. Validation studies have shown that microwave radiometer SST data have high accuracy that is comparable to the accuracy of data obtained from infrared measurements. However, certain persistent problems, such as sea-surface wind correction, remain to be solved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-473
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Oceanography
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Microwave measurement
  • Satellite observation
  • Sea surface temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography


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