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Ocean Surface Topography from Space
NEWSROOM
First Released Image
October 30, 1992

T/P First Press Release

This image from the TOPEX/Poseidon satellite shows preliminary results of wave height over the
global ocean as measured by the Ku-band NASA altimeter. The
data were recorded from Sept. 25 to Oct. 4, 1992. The
highest waves were observed in the Southern Ocean south of
South Africa and Australia, where giant waves as high as
eight meters (26 feet) were recorded. These waves are shown
in red. (The small pink square on the shoreline of
Antarctica is a artifact of processing.) The pattern of wave
height is dependent upon the season. The highest waves tend
to occur in winter and the lowest waves in summer. The time
of this observation was during the transition of winter to
spring in the Southern Hemisphere. Wave height is one of the
oceanographic measurements made by the TOPEX/Poseidon
satellite. It is determined by the shape of the return radar
pulse. A calm sea with low waves returns a condensed pulse,
and a rough sea with high waves returns a stretched pulse.
Calibration and validation of the altimeter observation
against ground truth measurements will be conducted over the
next few months. TOPEX/Poseidon, a joint U.S./French
mission, is part of NASA's Earth Science and Application
Division. Launched Aug. 10, 1992, it is the second satellite
in the Mission to Planet Earth program, a long-term effort
to study Earth from space.

NASA/JPL/Caltech

JPL Identification #: P-41223


Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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