NASA Multi-Sensor Improved Sea Surface Temperature Project

A five-year mission to collect the first Arctic upper ocean temperature profiles with a full suite of surface measurements, which are expected to improve modeling of diurnal warming.


Northern latitude record


Recurring mission


Saildrone Explorers

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NASA’s Multi-Sensor Improved Sea Surface Temperature project (MISST) is an international and inter-agency collaboration to improve weather and climate research and prediction by providing better-quality ocean temperature measurements from satellites. Over a period of five years (skipping 2020), Saildrone will send a group of vehicles to the Chukchi Sea to collect surface and subsurface data including but not limited to air temperature, sea surface skin and bulk temperatures, salinity, oxygen and chlorophyll-a concentrations, barometric pressure, and wind speed and direction.

The data from these cruises is expected to provide some of the first Arctic upper ocean temperature profiles collected with a full suite of surface measurements, leading to significant improvements in modeling diurnal warming. This new data will also substantially benefit the project by providing additional Arctic sea surface temperature observations for algorithm development and validation, and provide additional data for studies of air-sea-ice interactions.

The 2019 mission part of a was a joint effort between NOAA and the National Ocean Partnership Program (NOPP) Arctic MISST study. Four of six vehicles deployed sailed into the Chukchi Sea to run transects approaching the southern sea ice edge.


Real-time comparisons of the 2019 Saildrone data with numerical models revealed that surface net heat fluxes in the Arctic vary substantially, short-range numerical predictions can be very good for certain variables but not for others, and they deviate quickly from saildrone in situ observations as the prediction range increases.

The 2019 mission set a new Saildrone northern latitude record of 75.49°N.

“All of our buoys are located along the coasts of the United States, Europe, near India and Asia, and along the tropics. We aren’t able to deploy and maintain buoys in the Arctic. We have to rely on satellite data to understand Arctic ocean temperatures and how they’re changing with climate change.”

Chelle Gentemann

Senior scientist at the Farallon Institute and mission PI

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