The recent emergence of satellite-based sea surface salinity (SSS) measurements provides new opportunities for oceanographic research on freshwater influence in coastal environments. Several products currently exist from multiple observing platforms and processing centers, making product selection for different uses challenging. Here we evaluate four popular SSS datasets in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) to characterize the error in each product versus in-situ observations: Two products from NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission, processed by Remote Sensing Systems (REMSS) (40 km and 70 km); one SMAP 60 km product from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL); and one 60 km product from ESA’s Soil Moisture Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission. Overall, the four products are remarkably consistent on seasonal time scales, reproducing dominant salinity features. Towards the coast, 3 of the 4 products (JPL SMAP, REMSS 40 km SMAP, and SMOS) show increasing salty biases (reaching 0.7–1 pss) and Root Mean Square Error (RMSD) (reaching 1.5–2.5 pss), and a decreasing signal to noise ratio from 3 to 1. REMSS 40 km generally shows a lower RMSD than other products (~0.5 vs. ~1.1 pss) in the nearshore region. However, at some buoy locations, SMOS shows the lowest RMSD values, but has a higher bias overall (>0.2 vs. <0.1 pss). The REMSS 70km product is not consistent in terms of data availability in the nearshore region and performs poorly within 100 km of the coast, relative to other products. Additional analysis of the temporal structure of the errors over a range of scales (8/9-day to seasonal) shows significantly decreasing RMSD with increasing timescales across products.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited