Development and use of satellite-derived sea-surface temperature data for the nearshore North Pacific and Arctic Oceans : temperature pattern analysis and implications for climate change at ecoregional scale
The quantification and description of sea surface temperature (SST) is critically important because it can influence the distribution, migration, and invasion of marine species; furthermore, SSTs are expected to be affected by climate change. Recent research indicates that there has been a warming trend in ocean temperatures over the last 50 years. Hence, we sought to identify and demonstrate how a particularly germane SST dataset can be used within the scope of global climate change research. For this project we assembled a 29-year nearshore time series of mean monthly SSTs along the North Pacific coastline, as well as mean monthly SSTs for ice-free regions of the Arctic, using remotely-sensed satellite data collected with the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) instrument. By providing detailed information concerning both dataset generation and data limitations, we aimed to make these data comprehensible to an expanded audience concentrating on life sciences rather than the traditionally physical science-based community. Furthermore, by making these data freely and publically available in multiple formats, including GIS (geographic information systems) layers, we expand their visibility and the extent of their use. We then used the dataset to describe SST patterns of nearshore (< 20 km offshore) regions of 16 North Pacific ecoregions, and of ice-free regions of 20 Arctic ecoregions, as delineated by the Marine Ecoregions of the World (MEOW) hierarchical schema. Our work creates a better understanding of present temperature regimes in these critically sensitive areas, from which we can draw several basic conclusions. 1) AVHRR SST measurements alone are sufficient to identify temperature patterns pertinent to determining health of ecosystems; 2) Within the nearshore North Pacific, ecoregions along the California Current System are most vulnerable to habitat-altering SST changes; 3) sea ice distribution is a major factor affecting SSTs in Arctic ecoregions, causing concern for the welfare of Arctic species.