Abstract's details

Early oceanographic results from SWOT

Lee-Lueng Fu (JPL, United States)


Rosemary Morrow (LEGOS, France); Jean-François Cretaux (LEGOS/OMP/CNES, France); Tom Farrar (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, USA); T. Pavelsky (University of North Carolina, USA)

Event: 2023 Ocean Surface Topography Science Team Meeting

Session: OSTST Opening Plenary Session

Presentation type: Type Oral

Contribution: PDF file


Remote sensing of Earth’s surface water is crucial to the study of climate change and its impact to society.  Radar remote sensing is particularly important because it penetrates cloud cover, providing observations under all weather conditions.  Forty years ago, Seasat, the first satellite designed for studying the ocean from space, laid the foundation of radar remote sensing of the ocean with radar altimeter, scatterometer, and synthetic aperture radar (SAR). The first two have become the pillars of a global observing system that has revolutionized oceanography. Precise measurement of sea surface height by radar altimetry has provided a modern record of global sea level change and the state of ocean circulation, but its spatial resolution is limited by the large radar footprint (~20 km) and measurement noise, making it difficult to study small-scale, rapidly changing ocean processes, especially near coasts.
While SAR provides high-resolution images of many features of the ocean and land waters, it is difficult to derive quantitative information to study the underlying dynamics. The concept of applying radar interferometry onboard a satellite for oceanography and land hydrology was developed in the 2000s. Twenty years later the global mission called Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) was launched in December 2022.
We will present early results from SWOT with a focus on the ocean. The fundamental advancement of SWOT is the capability of observing the elevation of the ocean surface at nearly the resolution of SAR.  The spatial resolution of the resolved ocean dynamics is more than an order of magnitude better than conventional altimetry, enabling the study of small-scale ocean eddies and fronts that are essential to the ocean’s heat and carbon uptake from the atmosphere. The increased resolution will also advance the study of near shore processes to assess the coastal impact of sea level rise and severe weather, as well as ocean circulation and sea-ice dynamics in the polar oceans.

Oral presentation show times:

Room Start Date End Date
Grande Beach Room (#208) Tue, Nov 07 2023,16:00 Tue, Nov 07 2023,16:15
Lee-Lueng Fu
United States