The 3rd full-mission reanalysis (RAN3) of global sea surface temperature (SST) with a 750 m resolution at nadir is available from VIIRS instruments flown onboard two JPSS satellites: NPP (February 2012–present) and N20 (January 2018–present). Two SSTs, ‘subskin’ (sensitive to skin SST) and ‘depth’ (proxy for in situ SST at depth of 20 cm), were produced from brightness temperatures (BTs) in the VIIRS bands centered at 8.6, 11 and 12 µm during the daytime and an additional 3.7 µm band at night, using the NOAA Advanced Clear Sky Processor for Ocean (ACSPO) enterprise SST system. The RAN3 dataset is fully archived at NASA JPL PO.DAAC and NOAA CoastWatch, and routinely supplemented in near real time (NRT) with a latency of a few hours. Delayed mode (DM) processing with a 2 months latency follows NRT, resulting in a more uniform science quality SST record. This paper documents and evaluates the performance of the VIIRS RAN3 dataset. Comparisons with in situ SSTs from drifters and tropical moorings (D+TM) as well as Argo floats (AFs) (both available from the NOAA i
Quam system) show good agreement, generally within the NOAA specifications for accuracy (±0.2 K) and precision (0.6 K), in a clear-sky domain covering 18–20% of the global ocean. The nighttime SSTs compare with in situ data more closely, as expected due to the reduced diurnal thermocline. The daytime SSTs are also generally within NOAA specs but show some differences between the (D+TM) and AF validations as well as residual drift on the order of −0.1 K/decade. BT comparisons between two VIIRSs and MODIS-Aqua show good consistency in the 3.7 and 12 µm bands. The 11 µm band, while consistent between NPP and N20, shows residual drift with respect to MODIS-Aqua. Similar analyses of the 8.6 µm band are inconclusive, as the performance of the MODIS band 29 centered at 8.6 µm is degraded and unstable in time and cannot be used for comparisons.
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