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NCEI Ocean Color Archive



This site contains an overview of the NOAA archive services being provided for Level 2 (L2) and Level 3 (L3) ocean color (OC) products generated by the NOAA CoastWatch/OceanWatch Program (a.k.a CoastWatch). CoastWatch is an operational NOAA program that processes near real-time satellite data and makes it available to a variety of users in order to manage U.S. coastal resources and understand climate variability. CoastWatch currently produces near real-time ocean color products from multiple platforms. These include the Science Quality Environmental Data Records (L2 and L3) and L1B products from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) onboard the Suomi-National Polar-orbiting Partnership (SNPP) satellite, Level 1A (L1A) data from the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) on board NASA/GeoEye's OrbView-2 satellite, and L2 data from SeaWiFS, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board the NASA Aqua and Terra satellites, and the Medium Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MERIS) on board the European Space Agency's (ESA) Envisat platform.

Archive Strategy

Archive of these Ocean color products have been implemented by NCEI using NOAA's Comprehensive Large Array-data Stewardship System (CLASS). Under the new NOAA Data Center-CLASS relationship, CLASS will focus on information technology in support of the archive (ingest, archival storage and access) while NCEI is responsible for the overall archive services, including preservation planning, scientific stewardship, documentation and metadata management. An archive team consisting of representatives from CoastWatch, NCEI and CLASS is currently working to fulfill the archive requirements for these products.

Ocean Color Product Information

The OC Science Quality L2 and L3 Environmental Data Records (EDR) and L1B products are retrivaled from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) onboard the Suomi-National Polar-orbiting Partnership (SNPP) satellite from January 2, 2012. The data are produced by NESDIS Center for Satellite Applications and Research (STAR) OC team using the Multi-Sensor Level-1 to Level-2 (MSL12) ocean color data processing system. Science quality OC EDR are produced using the significantly improved VIIRS Sensor Data Records (SDR or Level-1B data), which are generated by the OC team (named OC-SDR) using both the solar and lunar approaches, and assimilated ancillary input data (as opposed to model predicted data used in near-real time data production). MSL12 and the OC-SDR calibration improvements were developed by the STAR OC team.

The L2 ocean color products generated by CoastWatch from SeaWiFS, MODIS, and MERIS data consist primarily of spatial information on chlorophyll-a concentration, as well as turbidity (reflectance), covering 13 CoastWatch regions globally. Products derived from all three sensors have approximately 1 km-per-pixel resolution, and are delivered as both daily and 61-day composites. All files are in CoastWatch Hierarchical Data Format (HDF). The SeaWiFS instrument was launched by Orbital Sciences Corporation on the OrbView-2 (a.k.a. SeaStar) satellite in August 1997, and collected data from September 1997 until the end of mission in December 2010. TheMERIS is a medium-spectral resolution imaging spectrometer operating in the solar reflective spectral range and its data covers the time period from April 29, 2002 to April 8, 2012.

Ocean Color Data Access

While MODIS data is freely and openly accessible to the public, access to SeaWiFS and MERIS data is restricted to users covered by the SeaWiFS CoastWatch contract or registered with ESA, respectively. For information on how to become an authorized user, or for other questions, please contact the NCEI satellite oceanography team at

Note that CLASS is a high-latency tape storage system and there may be some wait involved when accessing data.


  Last modified:    Thu, 18-Oct-2018 14:26 UTC
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