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Ocean Surface Topography from Space
Science Objectives

More than 25 years of scientific discovery by NASA’s ocean altimetry satellites has broadened the depth of science objectives for the missions. OSTM/Jason-2 and its successor missions are now expected to:

  • Measure global sea-height change and provide a continuous view of changing global ocean surface topography
  • Calculate the transport of heat, water mass, nutrients, and salt by the oceans,
  • Increase understanding of ocean circulation and seasonal changes and how the general ocean circulation changes through time,
  • Contribute to monitoring and study of marine weather by providing estimates of significant wave height and wind speeds over the ocean,
  • Test how we compute ocean circulation caused by blowing winds,
  • Improve the knowledge of ocean tides and develop open- ocean tide models,
  • Improve forecasting of climatic events like El Niño and of global climate in general,
  • Describe the nature of ocean dynamics and develop a global view of Earth's oceans,
  • Monitor the variation of global mean sea level and its relation to global climate change,
  • Measure cloud liquid water and water vapor in the atmosphere over the oceans, and
  • Support weather forecasting and climate studies by measuring the temperature and humidity of the atmosphere as a function of elevation using the occultation of GNSS signals.

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