Climate Data

SST (AMSR-E): Sea Surface Temperature from Remote Sensing Systems

High resolution (0.25°) SSTs were derived from the AMSR-E, a passive microwave radiometer flying on NASA's AQUA satellite. Remote Sensing Systems distributes the data in high spatial and temporal (daily, weekly, monthly) resolutions for both daytime and nighttime averages. Monthly versions are available on a 1°x1° grid from JPL PO-DAAC as well as the CMIP5 obs4MIPS distribution; these 1°x1° monthly versions were computed from the nighttime averages. Unlike SSTs from ships, buoys, etc, SSTs from AMSR-E are a 'skin' temperature from a layer ~1mm thick.<p>

NOTE: "The AMSR-E antenna stopped spinning at the required speed on Oct 4, 2011.  This is most likely due to aging lubricant in the spin mechanism. We no longer produce AMSR-E data products after Oct 4 2011.  The AMSR-E instrument continues to function, but with extremely reduced capability.  JAXA has released an official statement: Official press release from Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)"

Key Strengths:

  • SSTs can be retrieved even in the presence of clouds
  • High spatial and temporal sampling

Key Limitations:

  • Sampling can be inhomogeneous due to no retrievals in regions with rain, high winds (>25 m/s), near sea ice, or very near coasts (<~75 km)
  • Coarser spatial resolution and less accuracy than AVHRR retrievals
  • Short record length

Years of Record

2002/06 to 2010/12
temporal metadataID:



Daily | Monthly | Weekly

Data Time Period Extended?

no, data set not being extended


Spatial Resolution

0.25°x0.25° (RSS) or 1°x1° (Obs4MIPS & JPL)

Ocean or Land

Ocean Only

Missing Data Flag

missing data present

Vertical Levels

Input Data

AMSR-E brightness temperatures

Earth system components and main variables

Key Figures

Click the thumbnails to view larger sizes



Cite this page

National Center for Atmospheric Research Staff (Eds). Last modified 02 Jul 2016. "The Climate Data Guide: SST (AMSR-E): Sea Surface Temperature from Remote Sensing Systems." Retrieved from

Acknowledgement of any material taken from this page is appreciated. On behalf of experts who have contributed data, advice, and/or figures, please cite their work as well.