NOAA Coast Watch Tutorial On Ocean Satellite Data Products And Using ERDDAP and R or ArcGIS To Access And Work With Satellite Data

Date: Thursday, October 20, 2022

Time: 10:00 – 3:00 pm

Location: VBCC – L2 Suite 2AB

Abstract: The goal of the NOAA CoastWatch program is to build capacity in using satellite data within NOAA and beyond by providing background knowledge, tools, tutorials and hands-on help to users. Satellites make routine observations from which several ocean parameters such as sea surface temperature, ocean color, sea level, ocean winds, and salinity can be derived. Ocean observations from space have the advantage of broad spatial and temporal coverage that complement in situ measurements.

The NOAA CoastWatch/OceanWatch/PolarWatch program (CoastWatch, is a program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that provides environmental satellite products to help understand, manage and protect ocean and coastal resources. CoastWatch offers several levels of service to users, including the easy discovery and download of satellite data products, productivity tools to assist with data processing, and tutorials and training. CoastWatch provides free and open access to these ocean products through a variety of platforms, however, identifying and using satellite data products appropriate for a given application can be challenging for users outside of the satellite community.

As a result, ocean satellite data are underutilized in both research and operational oceanography. The goal of the NOAA CoastWatch program is to build capacity in using satellite data within NOAA and beyond by providing background knowledge, tools, tutorials and hands-on help to users. The lectures are designed to give students the background to select the best satellite products for their projects, but do not contain detailed information about how satellite products are made (e.g., atmospheric corrections, radiative transfer models). The lecture materials cover the basics of remote sensing, sea surface temperature, ocean color, altimetry, sea surface salinity, ocean surface winds, applications of satellite data, and how to choose a data product.

The tutorials introduce tools and techniques to help bring satellite data into R and ArcGIS analysis software. The tutorials leverage the features of the ERDDAP data server, which provides a simple, consistent way to temporally and spatially subset datasets and download data in multiple formats. Students learn how to access and download data, make maps and time-series, match animal and vessel tracks with satellite data, create virtual buoys, and extract data from within an irregular boundary. This tutorial session will teach participants where to find data and how to leverage the ERDDAP data platform to visualize, subset, download and work with data.

The workshop will be a mix of lectures on ocean satellite data, demonstrations and hands-on tutorials in R and ArcGIS. Some lectures will be pre-recorded PowerPoint presentations, and tutorials will be self-paced with instructors being available to answer questions and help troubleshooting. Participants will need to bring their own laptops and have installed software (Panoply, R or ArcGIS, or QGIS) prior to the start of the tutorial.


Dr. Melanie Abecassis (In-person) –  Assistant Research Scientist NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction / Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, Cooperative Institute for Satellite Earth System Studies, University of Maryland

Melanie is the operations manager for OceanWatch Central Pacific, which is based out of the NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, located in Hawaii. She is now working out of the central CoastWatch office, based out of the NOAA Center for Satellite Applications and Research, College Park, MD. She received her PhD from the University of Toulouse, France. Her background is in marine ecology and habitat-based models. She can help you with R questions, and to a lesser degree, Python and ArcGIS.


Michael Soracco – Help Desk Coordinator/ NOAA CoastWatch/OceanWatch/PolarWatch

Michael is the HelpDesk Coordinator for NOAA CoastWatch. He specializes in user data access by developing and maintaining data products, the data portal (and website) and the CoastWatch helpdesk. He has served as a commissioned officer in the NOAA Corps servicing equatorial moored buoys, conducting hydrographic surveys, and as a NOAA CoastWatch Operations Officer. He supports CoastWatch through user engagement, training, and product development.