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Data in Action: Facing the challenges of using high-resolution sea surface height observations from SWOT

Posted: Fri Mar 15, 2024 3:02 pm America/New_York
by PODAAC - colleen
On December 16, 2022, the NASA/CNES Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite mission was successfully launched and has since been capturing the height of the ocean (sea surface height or SSH) at unprecedented spatial scales between 78°S and 78°N. With SWOT, we are able, for the first time, to observe SSH at resolutions below 10 km while conventional satellite altimeters have been capturing the height of the ocean at scales of ~300 km in the 1990s to ~100 km at present. Capturing the topography of the ocean surface at fine scales is necessary to effectively monitor the ocean dynamics that contribute to the vertical transport of heat and carbon within the ocean as well as coastal sea level. This will in turn help scientists to improve the understanding of climate change and its consequences on the environment and society. However, challenges do exist. With the high-resolution (2 km) but narrow swath (120 km), SWOT needs 21 days to map the global ocean. Filling the missing information in the big temporal gaps becomes one of the biggest challenges in maximizing SWOT’s potential.

The animation shows one of the first full cycles of SSH anomalies acquired by SWOT in....

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