VIIRS Sensor Views Gulf of Mexico’s Newest Warm Core Eddy and “Lights at Night” from the Earth Scan Laboratory at LSU

Dr. Nan Walker’s Earth Scan Laboratory (ESL) at Louisiana State University developed this composite image that reveals Gulf of Mexico surface water temperatures and currents as well as “lights at night” over adjacent land areas on 28 January 2015. ESL produced the image from the Band 13 brightness temperatures and the Day/Night Band (panchromatic) for lights at night from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite.  Clouds have not been masked and appear in the image as black and blue tones. In the ocean, orange tones indicate warmest water and blue tones indicate coldest waters. The Band 13 brightness temperatures are lower than sea surface temperatures by about 1-2 degrees Celsius.

The image also shows other interesting features in the Gulf of Mexico region, including:

  • The warm core Eddy Michael separated from the Loop Current in mid-January;
  • Estuarine discharge plumes due to offshore winds during the recent cold front passage;
  • A notable cyclonic eddy along the north side of Eddy Michael, which is entraining river and shelf water in an offshore direction; and
  • Patterns on the land due to moon reflectance.

The LSU ESL will be developing a high resolution Gulf off Mexico SST algorithm soon! For more information about this image, please contact Dr. Nan Walker at LSU at ESL is a partner in the Gulf of Mexico Ocean Observing System Regional Association, a regional component of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System.