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Date of Original Version





We performed an out-of-distribution (OOD) analysis of ∼12,000,000 semi-independent 128 × 128 pixel2 sea surface temperature (SST) regions, which we define as cutouts, from all nighttime granules in the MODIS R2019 Level-2 public dataset to discover the most complex or extreme phenomena at the ocean’s surface. Our algorithm (ULMO) is a probabilistic autoencoder (PAE), which combines two deep learning modules: (1) an autoencoder, trained on ∼150,000 random cutouts from 2010, to represent any input cutout with a 512-dimensional latent vector akin to a (non-linear) Empirical Orthogonal Function (EOF) analysis; and (2) a normalizing flow, which maps the autoencoder’s latent space distribution onto an isotropic Gaussian manifold. From the latter, we calculated a log-likelihood (LL) value for each cutout and defined outlier cutouts to be those in the lowest 0.1% of the distribution. These exhibit large gradients and patterns characteristic of a highly dynamic ocean surface, and many are located within larger complexes whose unique dynamics warrant future analysis. Without guidance, ULMO consistently locates the outliers where the major western boundary currents separate from the continental margin. Prompted by these results, we began the process of exploring the fundamental patterns learned by ULMO thereby identifying several compelling examples. Future work may find that algorithms such as ULMO hold significant potential/promise to learn and derive other, not-yet-identified behaviors in the ocean from the many archives of satellite-derived SST fields. We see no impediment to applying them to other large remote-sensing datasets for ocean science (e.g., SSH and ocean color).

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Remote Sensing





Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.