The oceans play a critical role in the Earth's climate, but unfortunately the extent of this role is only partially understood. One major obstacle is the difficulty associated with making high-quality globally distributed observations, a feat that is nearly impossible using only ships and other ocean-based platforms. The data collected by satellite-borne ocean color instruments, however, provide environmental scientists a synoptic look at the productivity and variability of the Earth's oceans and atmosphere, respectively on high-resolution temporal and spatial scales.
Three such instruments, the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) onboard ORBIMAGE's OrbView-2 satellite, and two Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometers (MODIS) onboard the National Aeronautic and Space Administration's (NASA) Terra and Aqua satellites, have been in continuous operation since September 1997, February 2000, and June 2002, respectively. To facilitate the assembly of a suitably accurate data set for climate research, members of the NASA Sensor Inter-comparison and Merger for Biological and Interdisciplinary Oceanic Studies (SIMBIOS) Project and SeaWiFS Project Offices devote significant attention to the calibration and validation of these and other ocean color instruments. This article briefly presents results from the SIMBIOS and SeaWiFS Project Office's (SSPO) satellite ocean color validation activities and describes the SeaWiFS Bio-optical Archive and Storage System (SeaBASS),a state-of-the-art system for archiving, cataloging, and distributing the in situ data used in these activities.