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Ocean Surface Topography from Space
Altimetry & Currents at your Fingertips!
September 01, 2006

Screen capture of the tool.
Screen capture of the web interface.
In a joint project between NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorologic Laboratory (AOML) and NOAA's CoastWatch Program, alongtrack sea height anomalies from the available spaceborne altimeters are used to monitor global geostrophic currents in near-real time. A web interface allows users to select a region of interest and to view sea height anomaly fields and geostrophic currents in that area. Users can also overlay trajectories of surface drifters to visually compare against the altimetry derived fields.

Image from the Volvo Ocean Race.
Map from the Volvo Ocean Race.
Monitoring of these currents can be important, for example, for climate studies as they are key components of the Meridional Overturning Circulation. Additionally,the information these fields provide can be used to determine ocean frontal regions allowing investigation of the dynamics of marine ecosystems, which are closely related to thedistribution, abundance and movement of numerous fish species.These maps and data can also be helpful to aid in recreational sailing as in the case of the recent around-the-world Volvo Ocean Race.

This work is carried out by Joaquin Trinanes and Gustavo Goni of NOAA/AOML. JASON-1, TOPEX, ERS-2, ENVISAT and GFO Sea Height Anomaly (SHA) and Significant Wave Height data dating back to 1993 are used. Near-real time altimeter data were processed with a 2-day average delay by the Naval Research Laboratory at the Stennis Space Center.

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