Contribution of a constellation of two wide-swath altimetry missions to global ocean analysis and forecasting

Type Article
Date 2022-05
Language English
Author(s) Benkiran Mounir1, Le Traon Pierre-Yves1, 2, Dibarboure Gerald3
Affiliation(s) 1 : Mercator-Ocean International, 31400 Toulouse, France
2 : Ifremer, 29280 Plouzané, France
3 : Centre National d'Études Spatiales, 31400 Toulouse, France
Source Ocean Science (1812-0784) (Copernicus Gesellschaft Mbh), 2022-05 , Vol. 18 , N. 3 , P. 609-625
DOI 10.5194/os-18-609-2022
WOS© Times Cited 1

Swath altimetry is likely to revolutionize our ability to monitor and forecast ocean dynamics. To meet the requirements of the EU Copernicus Marine Service, a constellation of two wide-swath altimeters is envisioned for the long-term (post-2030) evolution of the Copernicus Sentinel 3 topography mission. A series of observing system simulation experiments (OSSEs) is carried out to quantify the expected performances. The OSSEs use a state-of-the-art high-resolution (1/12 degrees) global ocean data assimilation system similar to the one used operationally by the Copernicus Marine Service. Flying a constellation of two wide-swath altimeters will provide a major improvement of our capabilities to monitor and forecast the oceans. Compared to the present situation with three nadir altimeters flying simultaneously, the sea surface height (SSH) analysis and 7 d forecast error are globally reduced by about 50 % in the OSSEs. With two wide-swath altimeters, the quality of SSH 7 d forecasts is equivalent to the quality of SSH analysis errors from three nadir altimeters. Our understanding of ocean currents is also greatly improved (30 % improvements at the surface and 50 % at 300 m depth). The resolution capabilities will be drastically improved and will be closer to 100 km wavelength compared to about 250 km today. Flying a constellation of two wide-swath altimeters thus looks to be a very promising solution for the long-term evolution of the Sentinel 3 constellation and the Copernicus Marine Service.

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