Envisat concludes a busy second year in orbit

up to a fortnight ahead.

The service has a variety of users, from oceanographers to competitive yachtsmen, and is the French contribution to the international Global Ocean Data Assimilation Experiment (GODAE) initiative, intended to create a real time four-dimensional planetary ocean current model.

Mercator makes use of near real time results from Envisat's Radar Altimetry-2 (RA-2), which bounces thousands of radar pulses each second off the sea surface in order to detect ocean eddies and currents.

"Our model for forecasting has a maximum five km mesh size, which is demanding in terms of computing power, but which we need to resolve surface features like major currents and see their meanders," says Pierre Bahurel, Director of Mercator Ocean. "It is also demanding in terms of observations, to keep the model corresponding to actual conditions.

"That is why space-based altimeters are so important, because they give us a continuous supply of data to assimilate. The different satellites we rely on compliment each other, so, while the French-American Jason-1 has a more frequent revisit time, Envisat has a higher spatial resolution.

"We are also working to assimilate further Envisat products into our model, such as near-real time sea surface temperature measurements taken by the Advanced Along Track Scanning Radiometer (AATSR)."

RA-2 ocean wave height data plus Envisat ozone measurements - gets assimilated operationally into the ten-day forecast model of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), with plans to make additional use of ASAR wave mode in future.

ASAR homes in on earthquake zones; The improved amount of data returned by Envisat has improved the global reach of the spacecraft's imaging instruments. Near real time ASAR products are currently put to numerous uses including iceberg monitoring and ship tracking.

And the archive of ASAR imagery has grown greatly, which

Contact: Henri Laur
European Space Agency

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