CryoSat-2 Monitoring Oceans Now, Too
26.12.2011 - Atmosphere & Space, Water & Oceans, Ice & Snow, Bi-polar
According to the European Space Agency, its CryoSat-2 satellite will soon be used to monitor sea conditions for marine forecasting. The satellite was launched in April 2010 to measure variations in land and sea ice thickness in the Polar Regions, and the satellite has delivered. However while the satellite’s orbit takes it over the vast expanses of oceans in between the poles, the satellite can also be used to improve marine forecasting.
That satellite’s radar altimeter, which is used to measure tiny variations in the height of ice on the plant’s surface can also be used to measure the height of sea level and ocean waves. This altimeter can also be used to measure the height of waves and their direction on the open ocean, providing a set of data not available before. When data from CryoSat’s altimeter is combined with data from the EnviSat and Jason satellites, it can provide better estimates of ocean wave height and wind speed. Timely wave height and wind speed observations are essential to put together accurate marine forecasts.
Additionally, CryoSat-2 has also been collecting data on sea level, which is important for monitoring the movement of ocean waters and mapping the heat content of its upper layers. This heat on the upper layers of the ocean can fuel tropical storms and hurricanes.
So far, this new set of CryoSat data has only been provided to a select number of organizations, such as the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); however the data will soon become available.