Review of Satellite Altimetry for Ocean and Coastal Applications for Societal Benefit
Event: 2023 Ocean Surface Topography Science Team Meeting
Session: Coastal Altimetry
Presentation type: Type Oral
Contribution: PDF file
More than 30 years of observations from an international suite of satellite altimeter missions continue to provide key data enabling research discoveries and a broad spectrum of operational and user-driven applications. While these missions were designed to advance technologies to answer scientific questions about ocean circulation, ocean heat content, and the impact of climate change on these Earth systems, they are also a valuable resource for the operational needs of oceanographic, weather forecasting and other agencies providing information to shipping and fishing vessels and offshore operations for route optimization and safety, as well as for other decision makers in coastal, water resources, and disaster management fields. This time series of precise measurements of ocean surface topography reveals changes in ocean dynamic topography, tracks sea level variations at global to regional scales, and provides key information about ocean trends reflecting climate change in our warming world where the impacts of storms, waves, and sea level rise on coastal communities and infrastructure are increasingly manifest. Here we review some collaborative efforts of international space agencies, including NASA, CNES, NOAA, ESA, and EUMETSAT, which have contributed to a collection of use cases of satellite altimetry in operational and decision-support contexts. The extended time series of ocean surface topography measurements obtained from these satellite altimeter missions, along with advances in satellite technology that have allowed for higher resolution measurements nearer to coasts, has enabled a range of such applications. The resulting body of knowledge and data enables better assessments of storms, waves, and sea level rise impacts but also emerging applications in the fields of marine biodiversity, fisheries and ecosystem-based management amongst other key contributions for societal benefit. Although not exhaustive, this review provides a broad overview with specific examples of the important role of satellite altimetry in ocean and coastal applications, thus justifying the significant resource contributions made by international space agencies in the development of these missions.