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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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SMOS tracks Pacific fresh water pools

27 July 2016

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ESA's SMOS satellite has found a rise in fresh water in the tropical Pacific Ocean during last year's El NiƱo event.

The salinity of the ocean's surface varies across the world, controlled by the balance between evaporation, precipitation and river runoffs, as well as by ocean dynamics.

In the equatorial Pacific Ocean, surface waters have low salt concentration in the far east and far west boundaries of the basin owing to heavy rain. These areas - known as the Eastern and Western Pacific Fresh Pools - are separated by a large, saltier body owing to the effect of ocean currents and mixing.

Both pools move from east to west on a seasonal basis because of changes in the atmospheric forcing (such as heat, freshwater fluxes and wind speed) that affect rain, evaporation and currents.

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