Share Email Print

Proceedings Paper

Spaceborne Studies Of Ocean Circulation
Author(s): William C. Patzert
Format Member Price Non-Member Price
PDF $14.40 $18.00
cover GOOD NEWS! Your organization subscribes to the SPIE Digital Library. You may be able to download this paper for free. Check Access

Paper Abstract

The global view of the oceans seen by Seasat during its 1978 flight demonstrated the feasibility of ocean remote sensing. These first-ever global data sets of sea surface topography (altimeter) and marine winds (scatterometer) laid the foundation for two satellite missions planned for the late 1980's. The future missions are the next generation of altimeter and scatterometer to be flown aboard TOPEX (Topography Experiment) and NROSS (Navy Remote Ocean Sensing System), respectively. The data from these satellites will be coordinated with measurements made at sea to determine the driving forces of ocean circulation and to study the oceans role in climate variability. Sea surface winds (calculated from scatterometer measurements) are the fundamental driving force for ocean waves and currents (estimated from altimeter measurements). On a global scale, the winds and currents are approximately equal partners in redistributing the excess heat gained in the tropics from solar radiation to the cooler polar regions. Small perturbations in this system can dramatically alter global weather, such as the El Niho event of 1982-83. During an El Ni?io event, global wind patterns and ocean currents are perturbed causing unusual ocean warming in the tropical Pacfic Ocean. These ocean events are coupled to complex fluctuations in global weather. Only with satellites will we be able to collect the global data sets needed to study events such as El Ni?o. When TOPEX and NROSS fly, oceanographers will have the equivalent of meteorological high and low pressure charts of ocean topography as well as the surface winds to study ocean "weather." This ability to measure ocean circulation and its driving forces is a critical element in understanding the influence of oceans on society. Climatic changes, fisheries, commerce, waste disposal, and national defense are all involved.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 August 1984
PDF: 6 pages
Proc. SPIE 0481, Recent Advances in Civil Space Remote Sensing, (1 August 1984); doi: 10.1117/12.943081
Show Author Affiliations
William C. Patzert, California Institute of Technology (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 0481:
Recent Advances in Civil Space Remote Sensing

© SPIE. Terms of Use
Back to Top