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Estimating Subsurface Thermohaline Structure of the Global Ocean Using Surface Remote Sensing Observations

1, 1, 1 and 2,3,4,*
Key Laboratory of Spatial Data Mining and Information Sharing of Ministry of Education, National & Local Joint Engineering Research Centre of Satellite Geospatial Information Technology, Fuzhou University, Fuzhou 350108, China
Center for Remote Sensing, College of Earth, Ocean and Environment, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA
Fujian Engineering Research Center for Ocean Remote Sensing Big Data, Xiamen University, Xiamen 361005, China
State Key Laboratory of Marine Environmental Science, Xiamen University, Xiamen 361005, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(13), 1598;
Received: 26 April 2019 / Revised: 28 June 2019 / Accepted: 3 July 2019 / Published: 5 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue AI-based Remote Sensing Oceanography)
PDF [29508 KB, uploaded 5 July 2019]


Retrieving multi-temporal and large-scale thermohaline structure information of the interior of the global ocean based on surface satellite observations is important for understanding the complex and multidimensional dynamic processes within the ocean. This study proposes a new ensemble learning algorithm, extreme gradient boosting (XGBoost), for retrieving subsurface thermohaline anomalies, including the subsurface temperature anomaly (STA) and the subsurface salinity anomaly (SSA), in the upper 2000 m of the global ocean. The model combines surface satellite observations and in situ Argo data for estimation, and uses root-mean-square error (RMSE), normalized root-mean-square error (NRMSE), and R2 as accuracy evaluations. The results show that the proposed XGBoost model can easily retrieve subsurface thermohaline anomalies and outperforms the gradient boosting decision tree (GBDT) model. The XGBoost model had good performance with average R2 values of 0.69 and 0.54, and average NRMSE values of 0.035 and 0.042, for STA and SSA estimations, respectively. The thermohaline anomaly patterns presented obvious seasonal variation signals in the upper layers (the upper 500 m); however, these signals became weaker as the depth increased. The model performance fluctuated, with the best performance in October (autumn) for both STA and SSA, and the lowest accuracy occurred in January (winter) for STA and April (spring) for SSA. The STA estimation error mainly occurred in the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) region in the upper ocean and the boundary of the ocean basins in the deeper ocean; meanwhile, the SSA estimation error presented a relatively even distribution. The wind speed anomalies, including the u and v components, contributed more to the XGBoost model for both STA and SSA estimations than the other surface parameters; however, its importance at deeper layers decreased and the contributions of the other parameters increased. This study provides an effective remote sensing technique for subsurface thermohaline estimations and further promotes long-term remote sensing reconstructions of internal ocean parameters. View Full-Text
Keywords: thermohaline structure; global ocean interior; remote sensing data; XGBoost; deeper ocean remote sensing thermohaline structure; global ocean interior; remote sensing data; XGBoost; deeper ocean remote sensing

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Su, H.; Yang, X.; Lu, W.; Yan, X.-H. Estimating Subsurface Thermohaline Structure of the Global Ocean Using Surface Remote Sensing Observations. Remote Sens. 2019, 11, 1598.

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