Infrared and visible spectral sensors on spacecraft can provide imagery of ocean conditions equivalent to a global network of in situ sensors. Oceanographers can now view all the world's oceans during one day's travel of a polar-orbiting satellite. The surface areas of complex ocean regions that have strong thermal and chemical gradients, such as the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic and the Kuroshio in the Pacific, are displayed in minute detail in the imagery provided by satellite infrared and visible sensors. Because of the vast quantities of data involved in satellite infrared and visible imagery, computer techniques must be used to derive oceanographic information. A variety of basic computer image analysis techniques are required to do so. These basic techniques include selective enhancement, geographic registration, absolute ocean radiation and multiple-image composition. Through the use of these techniques, satellite and conventional oceanographic data can be integrated to form synergistically a powerful analytical tool for modern ocean research.