Date of Original Version
Satellite-derived sea surface temperature (SST) fronts provide a valuable resource for the study of oceanic fronts. Two edge detection algorithms designed specifically to detect fronts in satellite-derived SST fields are compared: the histogram-based algorithm of Cayula and Cornillon, 1992, Cayula and Cornillon, 1995 and the entropy-based algorithm of Shimada et al. (2005). The algorithms were applied to 4 months (July and August for both 1995 and 1996) of SST fields and the results are compared with SST data taken by the M.V. Oleander, a container ship that makes weekly transits between New York and Bermuda. There is no significant difference in front pixels found with the Cayula-Cornillon algorithm and those found in the in situ (Oleander) data. Furthermore, for strong fronts, with gradients greater than 0.2 K/km, the distribution of fronts found with the Shimada et al. algorithm is quite similar to that of fronts found with the Cayula-Cornillon algorithm. However, there are significant differences in the number of weak fronts found. This is seen clearly in waters south of the Gulf Stream where the gradient magnitude of fronts found is less than 0.1 K/km. In this region, the probability that the Shimada et al. algorithm detects a front rarely falls below 4% while neither the Cayula-Cornillon algorithm applied to the satellite-derived SST fields nor the gradient-based algorithm applied to the Oleander temperature time series find fronts more than 1% of the time. These results raise the question of exactly what qualifies as an SST front, a classic problem in edge detection.
Chang, Y., & Cornillon, P. (2015). A comparison of satellite-derived sea surface temperature fronts using two edge detection algorithms. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, 119, 40-47. doi: 10.1016/j.dsr2.2013.12.001
Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr2.2013.12.001