Sea Surface Temperature

The temperature at the surface of the ocean (SST : sea surface temperature) is an important physical property that can be measured quite easily from Earth Observation satellites. SST has a strong influence on the exchange of heat, momentum, water and gases between the ocean and the atmosphere. Knowledge of the geographical distribution of SST and its variation with time is therefore essential for predicting the dynamical behaviour of the atmosphere and the ocean. SST is also an important indicator of climate and climate change, giving us a finger on the pulse of the planet itself.

The large volume of data acquired from twenty years of satellite observations of SST has given scientists a uniquely detailed view of the changing physical characteristics of the surface of the oceans, sampled at a rate impossible to achieve with only ship based observations. Today the entire planet is observed at least once a day by various satellite sensors. Demands are increasing to frequently update measurements of SST for use in near-real time to drive ocean forecasting models, and for numerical weather prediction. At the same time the use of SST as a measure of climate change requires measurements of high accuracy.


The CERSAT develops, produces and/or distributes operational satellite sea surface temperature datasets from multiple missions in the context of various projects and partnerships. They include:

  • all SST datasets produced by Eumetsat Ocean and Sea-Ice Satellite Application Facility (OSI SAF), consisting in swath (L2P) and gridded (L3C) observations by European meteorological satellites Metop and Meteosat series. Access to this data can be obtained from OSI SAF portal.
  • high resolution combined multi-sensor datasets (L4) over global ocean (10km resolution) or regional areas (2km resolution) such as North-East Atlantic, Mediterranean Sea, South-Africa/Agulhas area or Tropical Atlantic. Some of these products are distributed through the Copernicus Marine Service (CMEMS).

The full list of available datasets can be browsed here.

Related activities

The CERSAT is a Data Archiving Center (DAC) within GHRSST international framework, and part of its federated network for SST dataset distribution.

Our products were developed and provided in the context of multiple projects such as  OSI SAF (EUMETSAT), Copernicus Marine Service (CMEMS), or Medspiration (ESA).