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The operational modelling of ocean currents is used both by shipping and fisheries, as well as oil producers who install large platforms in this environment. The mapping of ocean floor topography is also an important input to the latter.

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New swath processing for ocean patterns?

28 October 2016

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ESA's CryoSat was launched in 2010 to understand how the thickness of Earth's ice is changing, but this sophisticated mission has gone over and above its original remit in a number of ways. Pushing the mission even further, the latest efforts focus on patterns in the ocean.

Carrying a radar altimeter, CryoSat's main role is to provide detailed measurements of the height of the world's ice. This, along with knowledge on the extent of ice coverage, allows scientists to work out how the volume of Earth's ice is changing, seasonally and in response to climate change.

As well as providing a detailed picture of our cryosphere, CryoSat has also been used to map the ocean floor, to measure sea level, the height of waves and more.

CryoSat can also help to prepare for future altimetry missions such as the US-French Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission, planned to be launched in 2021.

The challenge is to see if new ways of processing CryoSat data could reveal high-resolution maps of ocean patterns.

Ocean eddies and currents can be simulated numerically or observed in 2D by satellites in terms of sea-surface temperature and ocean colour. This provides key information on the complex relationships and interactions between the ocean dynamics, marine biology and climate change.

The data from the roll campaigns are now publically available, which is a good starting point to develop ocean-swath processing.

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