NASA satellite captures unprecedented view of sea level

NASA satellite captures unprecedented view of sea level

NASA on Monday (30) released the data collected during the first 21-day scientific orbit of the SWOT (English abbreviation for Surface Water and Ocean Topography) satellite. The mission is a partnership between the American and French space agencies.

What you will read here:

  • NASA and the French National Center for Space Studies (CNES) (French Space Agency) jointly operate the SWOT satellite;
  • This spacecraft aims to survey the Earth’s surface waters, monitor details of the ocean surface topography, and measure changes in water bodies over time.
  • The equipment was launched in December 2022 into low Earth orbit, with a planned three-year mission;
  • Data collected by SWOT between July 26 and August 16 allowed the creation of an animation illustrating sea surface height anomalies around the world.

Variations in global sea level

A video posted by NASA on YouTube shows that the surface of oceans around the world has anomalies. The orange and red dots represent areas where the water level is higher, and the blue dots, where the water level is lower than average.

Map created from data collected by the SWTO satellite

These differences can be explained by ocean currents, such as the Gulf Stream, which leaves the east coast of the USA towards the North Atlantic Ocean, and the Kuroshio Current, which leaves the coast of Japan. The anomalies also represent warmer regions, such as the eastern equatorial Pacific during El Niño. This phenomenon heats the water in this region, causing it to expand and rise.

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According to the statement From NASA, data were collected using a Ka-band radar interferometer (KaRin) sensor, which has two antennas spaced 10 meters apart. Together, they produce a pair of data sets as the satellite orbits Earth, bouncing radar pulses off the water’s surface to collect elevation measurements.

The details that SWOT sends out about sea levels around the world are incredible. The data will advance research on the impacts of climate change and help communities around the world better prepare for a warming world.

Parag Vaze, SWOT project manager, said in a statement to NASA.

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