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SWOT Mission – Surface Water Ocean Topography

Tech & Sec Weekly


Observing System Simulation Experiments (OSSEs) are a recent innovation in ocean modelling, adapted from meteorology, that use synthetic ocean observations to inform future observational strategies, e.g. an artificial temperature record from a ‘toy’ glider or sea-surface height observations from a future satellite.

By assimilating these synthetic observations into a numerical model, this project will investigate how well the data stream improves the model estimates, thus guiding future observing strategies.

In this project, performing OSSEs is to provide valuable support for the next generation of high-res ocean observing systems, both in Australia (through IMOS) and Internationally. An international example is NASA’s Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission, a ground-breaking future satellite to be launched in 2021. SWOT will use pioneering wide-swath radar interferometry to measure ocean features as small as 2km — more than ten times the resolution of current technologies. By comparing simulated SWOT observations with the model “truth”, we will establish a valuable baseline for calibration and validation of real SWOT data once it is launched in 2022. This project will be co-supervised by Dr Shane Keating (UNSW), Moninya Roughan (UNSW), Dr Colette Kerry (UNSW) and Dr Patrice Klein (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory).

We speak with Dr Shane Keating (UNSW) who is interested in measuring, modelling and understanding turbulent mixing and stirring and its role in the ocean and the climate. Specifically, Shane studies:

  • Mixing and turbulence in the geophysical flows
  • Ocean state estimation and data assimilation
  • Satellite remote sensing
  • Geophysical wave interactions

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