Remote Sensing of Environment
The characteristics and benefits of ocean color merged data sets created using a semi-analytical model and the normalized water-leaving radiance observations from the SeaWiFS, MODIS-AQUA and MERIS ocean color missions are presented. Merged data products are coalesced from multiple mission observations into a single data product with better spatial and temporal coverage than the individual missions. Using the data from SeaWiFS, MODIS-AQUA and MERIS for the 2002-2009 time period, the average daily coverage of a merged product is similar to 25% of the world ocean which is nearly twice that of any single mission's observations. The frequency at which a particular area is sampled from space is also greatly improved in merged data as some areas can be sampled as frequently as 64% of the time (in days). The merged data presented here are validated through matchup analyses and by comparing them to the data sets obtained from individual missions. Further, a complete error budget for the final merged data products was developed which accounts for uncertainty associated with input water-leaving radiances and provides uncertainty levels for the output products (i.e. the chlorophyll concentration, the combined dissolved and detrital absorption coefficient and the particulate backscattering coefficient). These merged products and their uncertainties at each pixel were developed within the NASA REASON/MEaSUREs and ESA GlobColour projects and are available to the scientific community. Our approach has many benefits for the creation of unified Climate Data Records from satellite ocean color observations.