An international team of researchers say that a computer program, which automatically analyzes mounds of satellite images and other data, could help climate scientists keep track of complex, constantly changing environmental conditions.
The program uses probability to analyze and extract environmental information from satellite images and sensor data about ocean structures like wakes, upwellings and cold and warm eddies, according to the researchers.
Researchers first built a database of ocean structures and then used the knowledge of human experts to train the program to recognize and identify changes in the ocean.
Researchers tested the technology on satellite images provided by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer of sections of oceans in the Iberian Atlantic, the Mediterranean coast and near the Canary Islands.
The tests included 1,000 cases of real ocean features, including 472 upwellings, 119 cloudy upwellings, 180 wakes, 10 anticyclonic eddies, 40 cyclonic eddies and 180 misclassified regions.
The best combination of filter and classification method developed by the researchers accurately identified the ocean features more than 89 percent of the time.
The researchers think that data on these oceanic features could offer clues on subtle changes in the temperature of the oceans and global climate conditions.
The research was reported in the current issue of IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing.