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Ocean Surface Topography from Space
MERCATOR, Global Operational Ocean Monitoring and Forecasting
Eric Dombrowsky

Pierre Bahurel
Dominique Obaton
Yann Drillet
(Mercator Océan)
Marie Drevillon
Mounir Benkiran
Didier Jourdan
Global Sea Level variability simulated by the Mercator high resolution global ocean model
Larger image with caption


Mercator Ocean is the French center for ocean monitoring and forecasting. It operated systems based on OGCM configurations (either global or basin-scale) coupled with data assimilation schemes that allow the use of real-time altimeter data from SSALTO/DUACS in addition to in situ profiles of T and S (from CORIOLIS) and RTG SST.

The current proposal, follow on of a formal OST-ST project, consist of:

  1. routinely assimilating NRT altimeter data to provide routine ocean services,
  2. assess the value of Mercator products for applications, including the French Navy applications, and
  3. study and assess the impact of altimeter data on the services delivered by Mercator Ocean with OSE.

This proposal is based on the Mercator operational ocean forecasting system, and its capacity to assimilate routinely near-real-time altimeter data and other ocean data.

The 3 objectives of this project are the following:

  1. Implement and improve efficient assimilation of altimeter observation in conjunction with other kind of observation (in situ and remotely sensed) for routine real-time production of global ocean physical and biogeochemical state from large scale to the eddy field
  2. Connect with operational downstream applications and demonstrate the value of the Mercator Ocean products (and consequently of assimilated altimeter data) for these application
  3. Assess the impact of altimeter observation on operational oceanography products and services

These objectives are in phase with the OST-ST RA objective "to explore operational applications of satellite altimetry...", bullet 4, S6 P8 of the JRA. They are related also to the objective "to contribute to the preparation of future altimetry missions, ...", bullet 8, S8, P9 of the JRA.

We will work toward the first objective implementing and upgrading the Mercator Ocean forecasting system, operating it routinely providing real-time estimates and forecast of the ocean circulation, and assessing the results applying the methodology defined within GoDAE (Metrics). Systematic comparisons with observations, with published results or prior knowledge of the ocean circulation will be done and analyzed. Doing so, the quality of the Mercator Ocean products will be monitored.

To reach the second objective, we will involve some of Mercator Ocean customers in the assessment. For instance, the SHOM is using routinely the Mercator Ocean analysis and forecast to elaborate products and provide the service for final users. These services include description of the ocean environment on the acoustic propagation in the water, and analysis of front and eddy.

Finally, to reach the third objective, we will conduct OSE (Observing Systems Experiments) which consist of integrating the system while withdrawing some of the data to study the impact of them. This methodology will be applied to measure the relative impact of the different components of the observing system, including altimetry. In addition, we will evaluate the possibility to conduct OSSE (Observing System Simulation Experiments) which consist of simulating some observations, for example for future observing systems, and conduct sister experiment, with and without these simulated data, in order to measure the potential impact of these future observing systems components.

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