Global Observations of Fine-Scale Ocean Surface Topography With the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) Mission

Type Article
Date 2019-05
Language English
Author(s) Morrow Rosemary1, Fu Lee-Lueng2, Ardhuin FabriceORCID15, Benkiran Mounir4, Chapron BertrandORCID3, Cosme Emmanuel5, D’ovidio Francesco6, Farrar J. Thomas7, Gille Sarah T.8, Lapeyre Guillaume9, Le Traon Pierre-YvesORCID3, 4, Pascual Ananda10, Ponte AurelienORCID3, Qiu Bo11, Rascle NicolasORCID12, Ubelmann Clement13, Wang Jinbo2, Zaron Edward D.14
Affiliation(s) 1 : Centre de Topographie des Océans et de l’Hydrosphère, Laboratoire d’Etudes en Géophysique et Océanographie Spatiale, CNRS, CNES, IRD, Université Toulouse III, Toulouse, France
2 : Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, United States
3 : Laboratoire d’Océanographie Physique et Spatiale, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique – Ifremer, Plouzané, France
4 : Mercator Ocean, Ramonville-Saint-Agne, France
5 : Institut des Géosciences de l’Environnement, Université Grenoble Alpes, Grenoble, France
6 : Sorbonne Université, CNRS, IRD, MNHN, Laboratoire d’Océanographie et du Climat: Expérimentations et Approches Numériques (LOCEAN-IPSL), Paris, France
7 : Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA, United States
8 : Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, United States
9 : Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique (LMD-IPSL), CNRS, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, France
10 : IMEDEA (CSIC-UIB), Instituto Mediterráneo de Estudios Avanzados, Esporles, Spain
11 : Department of Oceanography, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, United States
12 : Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada, Ensenada, Mexico
13 : CLS Space Oceanography, Collecte Localisation Satellites, Toulouse, France
14 : Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Portland State University, Portland, OR, United States
Source Frontiers In Marine Science (2296-7745) (Frontiers Media SA), 2019-05 , Vol. 6 , N. 232 , P. 19p.
DOI 10.3389/fmars.2019.00232
WOS© Times Cited 173
Keyword(s) ocean mesoscale circulation, satellite altimetry, SAR-interferometry, tides and internal tides, calibration-validation

The future international Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) Mission, planned for launch in 2021, will make high-resolution 2D observations of sea-surface height using SAR radar interferometric techniques. SWOT will map the global and coastal oceans up to 77.6∘ latitude every 21 days over a swath of 120 km (20 km nadir gap). Today’s 2D mapped altimeter data can resolve ocean scales of 150 km wavelength whereas the SWOT measurement will extend our 2D observations down to 15–30 km, depending on sea state. SWOT will offer new opportunities to observe the oceanic dynamic processes at scales that are important in the generation and dissipation of kinetic energy in the ocean, and that facilitate the exchange of energy between the ocean interior and the upper layer. The active vertical exchanges linked to these scales have impacts on the local and global budgets of heat and carbon, and on nutrients for biogeochemical cycles. This review paper highlights the issues being addressed by the SWOT science community to understand SWOT’s very precise sea surface height (SSH)/surface pressure observations, and it explores how SWOT data will be combined with other satellite and in situ data and models to better understand the upper ocean 4D circulation (x, y, z, t) over the next decade. SWOT will provide unprecedented 2D ocean SSH observations down to 15–30 km in wavelength, which encompasses the scales of “balanced” geostrophic eddy motions, high-frequency internal tides and internal waves. This presents both a challenge in reconstructing the 4D upper ocean circulation, or in the assimilation of SSH in models, but also an opportunity to have global observations of the 2D structure of these phenomena, and to learn more about their interactions. At these small scales, ocean dynamics evolve rapidly, and combining SWOT 2D SSH data with other satellite or in situ data with different space-time coverage is also a challenge. SWOT’s new technology will be a forerunner for the future altimetric observing system, and so advancing on these issues today will pave the way for our future.

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Morrow Rosemary, Fu Lee-Lueng, Ardhuin Fabrice, Benkiran Mounir, Chapron Bertrand, Cosme Emmanuel, D’ovidio Francesco, Farrar J. Thomas, Gille Sarah T., Lapeyre Guillaume, Le Traon Pierre-Yves, Pascual Ananda, Ponte Aurelien, Qiu Bo, Rascle Nicolas, Ubelmann Clement, Wang Jinbo, Zaron Edward D. (2019). Global Observations of Fine-Scale Ocean Surface Topography With the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) Mission. Frontiers In Marine Science, 6(232), 19p. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :