New Satellite Will Monitor Rising Oceans

Article written: 20 Jun , 2008
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
by

A Delta 2 rocket blasted off early this morning at 3:46 a.m. EDT bringing the Ocean Surface Topography Mission-Jason 2 into Earth orbit. The satellite will use a radar altimeter to precisely measure the height of ocean surfaces, which have been rising in recent years because of increasing temperatures. The data will be used to monitor effects of climate change on sea level and to improve global weather, climate and ocean forecasts. NASA said the new satellite, which is a cooperative effort between the US and France, will also improve hurricane forecasting.

“Global warming is causing the oceans to rise at a rate of about 3 millimeters per year, and this is a direct result of increasing the temperature of the atmosphere,” said Josh Willis an oceanographer from JPL. “That causes glaciers and ice sheets to melt, raising the levels of the ocean. But also, the ocean itself absorbs heat. And when that happens, again the water expands, stands a little taller, and this causes sea level rise as well, so the altimeter on OSTM, or Jason 2, will see both of these effects at it circles the Earth.”

Similar observations began in 1992 with a spacecraft dubbed TOPEX/Poseidon and have continued with the current Jason 1 satellite. The two Jasons will fly in tandem.

Together with Jason 1, the two spacecraft will double global data coverage. This tandem mission will improve our knowledge of tides in coastal and shallow seas and internal tides in the open ocean, while improving our understanding of ocean currents and eddies.

Jason 2 will map the sea surface highs and lows every 10 days, tracking changes and helping scientists keep tabs on climate, and even weather.

Measurements of sea-surface height, or ocean surface topography, reveal the speed and direction of ocean currents and tell scientists how much of the sun’s energy is stored by the ocean. Combining ocean current and heat storage data is key to understanding global climate variations.

OSTM/Jason 2’s five primary instruments are improved versions of those flying on Jason 1. These technological advances will allow scientists to monitor conditions in ocean coastal regions — home to about half of Earth’s population. Compared with Jason 1 measurements, OSTM/Jason 2 will have substantially increased accuracy and provide data to within 25 kilometers (15 miles) of coastlines, nearly 50 percent closer to shore than in the past. Such improvements will be welcome news for all those making their living on the sea, from sailors and fishermen to workers in offshore industries. NOAA will use the improved data to better predict hurricane intensity, which is directly affected by the amount of heat stored in the upper ocean.

Sources: NASA, JPL


4 Responses

  1. dmedici says

    What rising oceans? How many cities have gone under since all this global warming nonsense started? It’s colder than hell where I live. How much were the taxpayers soaked for this latest tom foolery?

  2. marcellus says

    dmedici, you are right on. I have been planting trees for 25 years and my last trees for this season went into the ground today.

    This is the latest that I’ve EVER planted. This spring has been so cool and wet, that it has been astounding.

    The only place in the world where the water is rising is in the Midwest. Hopefully this satellite can measure the drop in the oceans, but if Al Gore programmed the damn thing, it probably won’t release the data.

  3. baley says

    Guess what marcellus your climate has been colder but elsewhere is warmer tough (like say europe), tough luck I guess. None claims you that global warming (a misnomer it’s called Global climate change you know for a reason) means hotter weather, it means weather getting more violent and “unstable”.

  4. baley says

    And yeah Al gore want to control the world secretly and because the scientists want to take over the world!

    In case that isn’t clear (you never know) I used something called irony

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