Satellite to track rising seas as climate warms

Pablo Tucker
November 21, 2020

Satellite interference allows mission teams to ensure they receive continuous data before the previous mission ends.

With spectators filling Lompoc Valley viewing sites, a Falcon 9 rocket roared to life Saturday morning at Vandenberg Air Force Base en route to delivering NASA newest ocean-monitoring satellite to space. -European satellite will be carried into space on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

"It's a critical observation for a number of reasons, but its power is really unleashed when we combine our altimetry observations of the sea surface height measurements with the observations we get from the other satellites in the NASA fleet and the global fleet", she continued. The instrument measures how long it takes for radar signals to bounce off the sea surface and back to the satellite. It's one of two Sentinel-6-series satellites that will be launched for the program, with the Sentinel-6B set to join the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich sometime in 2025. Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Satellites (GRACE). -European satellite created to extend a decades-long measurement of global sea surface heights was launched into Earth orbit from California on Saturday. Focus on returning the flag to the expedition. "We are discussing right now other options of cooperation based on the model of Sentinel 6-Michael Freilich".

"Because 70 percent of earth's surface is covered by the ocean, we're literally watching the shape of the planet change before our very eyes", Willis said.


The Sentinel satellites are each about the size and shape of a large minivan topped with slanted solar panels, and weigh almost 1,200 kilos (2,600 pounds), including rocket fuel. It is supported by a microwave radiometer developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which measures water vapor in the atmosphere to providing timing corrections for the radar altimeter.

Together with our global and interagency partners, we're monitoring the causes of sea level rise with high accuracy and precision.

While sea level measurements are also taken at ground level, in harbors and other coastal areas, they don't provide the same precise uniform standard and breadth as data collected by a single satellite sweeping the entire globe every ten days, said Aschbacher.

Aschbacher said measurements dating back to the 1990s show average sea levels rising first by about 3 millimeters (0.12 inches) per year, but in the past couple of years the annual rate was nearly 5 millimeters (0.2 inches).


According to NOAA, sea levels don't rise at the same rate everywhere.

Satellites like Sentinel 6 make it possible to accurately measure storm surge when all else fails, keeping us better informed.

"Extreme sea level events that are historically rare - once per century in the recent past - are projected to occur frequently, at least once per year, at many locations by 2050", especially in the tropics, the United Nations climate science advisory panel, the IPCC, concluded in a major report last year. Melting ice sheets of Greenland contributed the most to the global sea level rise between 2003 and 2016. Sentinel-6 will be placed in orbit at an altitude of 1,336 meters, replacing Jason-3, the older generation.

The event can be watched live at space.com via NASA TV or on NASA TV's YouTube channel.


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