On Monday (30), NASA released the data collected by the first 21-day scientific orbit of the SWOT satellite (acronym in English for Topography of Surface Waters and Oceans). The mission is a partnership between the US and French space agencies.
What you will read here:
- NASA and France’s National Center for Space Studies (CNES) (the French space agency) jointly operate the SWOT satellite;
- This spacecraft aims to survey Earth’s surface waters, observe details of the topography of the ocean surface and measure changes in bodies of water over time;
- The equipment was launched in December 2022 into low Earth orbit, with a planned mission time of three years;
- The data collected by SWOT between July 26th and August 16th made it possible to generate an animation that shows anomalies in the height of the sea surface around the world.
Differences in global sea level
A video published by NASA on YouTube shows that the surface of the oceans around the world has anomalies. The orange and red dots represent the areas where the water level is highest, and the blue ones, where it is below average.
These differences can be explained by sea currents, such as the Gulf, which leaves the east coast of the USA towards the North Atlantic, and the Kuroshio current, which leaves the coast of Japan. The anomalies also represent warmer regions, such as the portion Eastern Equatorial Pacific during El Niño. The phenomenon heats the water in this region, causing it to expand and become higher.
According to the NASA statement, the data was collected with the Ka-band Radar Interferometer (KaRIn) sensor, which has two antennas 10 meters apart. Together, they produce a pair of data swaths as the satellite orbits the Earth, bouncing radar pulses off the water’s surface to collect height measurements.
The details that SWOT is sending about sea levels around the world are incredible. The data will advance research into the effects of climate change and help communities around the world better prepare for a warming world.
Parag Vaze, SWOT project manager, in a NASA statement.