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The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) will add a significant new capability for investigating the 70% of the earth's surface that is covered by oceans, in addition to contributing to the continuation of a decadal scale time series necessary for climate change assessment in the oceans. Sensor capabilities of particular importance for improving the accuracy of ocean products include high SNR and high stability for narrower spectral bands, improved onboard radiometric calibration and stability monitoring, and improved science data product algorithms. Spectral bands for resolving solar-stimulated chlorophyll fluorescence and a split window in the 4-mu m region for SST will result in important new global ocean science products for biology and physics. MODIS will return full global data at 1-km resolution. The complete suite of Levels 2 and 3 ocean products is reviewed, and many areas where MODIS data are expected to make significant, new contributions to the enhanced understanding of the oceans' role in understanding climate change are discussed. In providing a highly complementary and consistent set of observations of terrestrial, atmospheric, and ocean observations, MODIS data will provide important new information on the interactions between earth's major components.