. Earth Science News .

CryoSat ice satellite rides new waves
by Staff Writers
Paris (ESA) Dec 27, 2011

Estimate of wind speed over oceans using data from ESA's CryoSat mission from 17 November - 13 December. The product was generated by NOAA using CryoSat's fast delivery mode radar echoes. Credits: NOAA - E. Leuliette.

ESA's CryoSat mission has been gathering detailed information on the thickness of Earth's ice since its launch in 2010. Through international collaboration, this state-of-the-art mission is soon to be used to monitor conditions at sea for marine forecasting.

CryoSat was built to measure tiny variations in the thickness of Earth's ice. As a result, the mission is providing scientists with the data they need to help improve our understanding of the relationship between ice, climate and sea level.

As CryoSat orbits from pole to pole, it passes over vast expanses of ocean. So while the mission was designed specifically for ice monitoring, it can also serve to help improve the safety of marine traffic.

The satellite carries Europe's first radar altimeter specialised for the purpose of detecting tiny variations in the height of the ice - but it can also be used to measure sea level and the height of the waves.

The instrument sends out short radar pulses and measures the time it takes for the signals to travel from the satellite to the ground and back. This information provides the height of the surface below.

The advantage of yielding this kind of information from CryoSat is also down to the advanced performance of its main SIRAL instrument.

When data from CryoSat are merged with other altimeter data such as that from the Envisat and Jason satellites, the combined estimation of wave height and wind speed is greatly improved.

In addition, thanks to its drifting orbit, CryoSat allows a high number of crossovers with other altimeter missions. This provides a set of measurements that have not been available before.

Marine weather forecasts are essential for the safe passage of vessels but accurate forecasts need a supply of timely wind and wave observations.

Since CryoSat's primary objective was measure ice, fast data delivery was not initially intended.

However, the CryoSat team has changed this to demonstrate that CryoSat can deliver marine information in near-real time from most of its orbits around Earth.

Up to now, this new product called 'fast delivery mode' has only been provided to organisations such the National Ocean and Atmospheric Organisation (NOAA) in the US.

This is about to change: marine information is expected to be available systematically to all users from February.

At NOAA's Laboratory for Satellite Altimetry (LSA), the CryoSat data are processed to estimate wind speed and wave height, which are then provided to forecasters at NOAA's National Centres for Environmental Predication.

CryoSat is also providing data on sea level. This is important for monitoring the movement of the ocean waters and mapping the heat content of the upper layers - a reservoir of energy that can lead to tropical storms and hurricanes.

LSA combines CryoSat data with information from other organisations such as the French space agency CNES, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts and NASA.

This processing takes a matter of only three days. NOAA delivers these data to ocean modellers and forecasters worldwide.

For example, Australia's Integrated Marine Observing System now uses CryoSat observations of sea level to monitor surface currents.

This is not only a prime example of what an international approach can achieve in Earth observation, but also demonstrates that although ESA's family of Earth Explorer satellites are designed with a specific scientific objective in mind, they are able to offer so much more - benefiting both science and the way we live.

Related Links
CryoSat at ESA
Beyond the Ice Age

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries


. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Using new technology to record Antarctic Ocean, ice temperatures
Reno NV (SPX) Dec 23, 2011
Half-mile long thermometers have been dropped through the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica that will give the world relevant data on sea and ice temperatures for tracking climate change and its effect on the glacial ice surrounding the continent. The study based at the University of Nevada, Reno is funded by the National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs and other NSF grants. "This ... read more

Fukushima report faults TEPCO, government

Japan's tsunami refugees brace for harsh winter

Tent cities loom for Philippine flood victims

Japan atomic regulators, TEPCO 'unprepared': panel

Siberian man miraculously unharmed as satellite piece crashes through roof

Owner of house hit by satellite fixes roof himself amid compensation snag

Was that Santa up there? No, Soyuz rocket debris

Russian satellite hits 'cosmonaut street' in Siberia

Sensing the deep ocean

Giant prawns invade Gulf of Mexico

Study examines how diving marine mammals manage decompression

Comprehensive Study Makes Key Findings of Ocean pH Variations

In hot water: Ice Age findings forecast problems

CryoSat ice satellite rides new waves

Lockheed Martin Wins Major US Antarctic Program Support Contract

Glacial tap is open but the water will run dry

China to face more Wukan-style protests: official

Latest China food safety scandal widens to oil

China jails six over tainted pork

Toxin found in Chinese milk

Philippine flood toll rises to 1,249

Volcanic mudflow kills three in Indonesia

Floods, derailment cut off northern Australia

Indonesia volcano eruption panics villagers

Ivorian leadership faces conundrum with rowdy ex-rebels

One killed as Bissau troops hunt failed coup suspects: army

Bissau back to normal after coup scare: AU chief

Coup foiled in Guinea-Bissau, navy chief held

How to break Murphy's Law And Live To Tell The Tale

Human skull study causes evolutionary headache

Malaysian 'lords of the jungle' cling to ancient ways

Mind reading machines on their way: IBM


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2012 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement