Timeline: 1978 - 1988 A.D.

B.C. portion of timeline
years 1 to 1000 A.D. section of timeline
year 1300-1500 A.D. section of timeline
years 1600 to 1700 A.D. section of timeline
year 1800 A.D. section of timeline
year 1900 through 1960 A.D. section of timeline
year 1957 through 1973 A.D. section of timeline
year 1978 through 1988 A.D. section of timeline
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year 2000 A.D. section of timeline
1-1000 AD

sea surface temperature off California coast, description follows

The Pacific Ocean off the coast of California, in the Western United States, is shown above, in a range of  blue colors, through Sea Surface Temperature data (SST). The Coastal Zone Color Scanner (CZCS) satellite image shows upwelling in the California Current system. Note the eddys and filaments of water that spin off from the cold rim of upwelled water along the coast. The black shapes, over the ocean, indicate cloud cover. The image is from the "Back to the Beach!" from California State University at Long Beach (CSULB).

The Coastal Zone Color Scanner Experiment (CZCS), launched aboard NIMBUS-7 in October 1978, was the first instrument devoted to the measurement of ocean color and flown on a spacecraft. Although other instruments flown on other spacecraft had sensed ocean color, their spectral bands, spatial resolution and dynamic range were optimized for land or meteorological use and had limited sensitivity in this area, whereas in CZCS, every parameter was optimized for use over water to the exclusion of any other type of sensing.

The CZCS data set is a global ocean color data set. In most oceanic regions, the color of the ocean is primarily determined by the abundance of phytoplankton and their associated photosynthetic pigments. As phytoplankton pigment concentration increases, ocean color gradually shifts from blue to green. CZCS utilizes this characteristic of ocean color for the observation of pigment distribution in the oceans. During the 91 months of its operation (October 1978 - June 1986), CZCS acquired nearly 68,000 images, each covering up to 2 million square kilometers of ocean surface.