Jason-2 satellite set to launch June 15th from Vandenberg, will track sea level

Jason-2/Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM).

Jason-2/Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM).

Click for High resolution image (Credit: NOAA)

Hopefully, this will put an end to tide gage data and it’s nuances (such as subsidence). From a  NOAA press release:

A new satellite set to launch next month will monitor the rate of sea-level rise and help measure the strength of hurricanes, according to a leading NOAA scientist.

At a press briefing May 20th, Laury Miller, chief of NOAA’s Laboratory for Satellite Altimetry, said NOAA will use data from the Jason-2/Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM) to extend a 15-year record from two earlier altimeter missions that currently show sea level is rising at a rate of 3.2 mm/year — nearly twice as fast as the previous 100 years. “This rate, if it continues unchanged over the coming decades, will have a large impact on coastal regions, in terms of erosion and flooding,” said Miller.

The Jason-2/OSTM is scheduled for lift off June 15 at 1:47 a.m. from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The spacecraft is a joint, international effort between NOAA, NASA, France’s Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (Eumetsat).

 Like its predecessor missions TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason-1, Jason-2/OSTM is designed to extend the climate data record by providing a long-term survey of Earth’s oceans, tracking ocean circulation patterns and measuring sea-surface heights and the rate of sea-level rise. These are all key factors in understanding climate change.

The satellite will use a radar altimeter instrument attached to it and fly in a low Earth orbit allowing it to monitor 95 percent of Earth’s ice-free oceans every 10 days.

In addition to detecting climate change factors, Jason-2/OSTM will also be used in the prediction of short-term, severe weather events, such as hurricanes and tropical storms. According to Miller, NOAA will use the altimeter measurements to monitor ocean conditions that trigger changes in the strength of tropical cyclones, as they move over the ocean towards the land. The technique involves mapping the ocean heat content — the fuel that feeds a storm’s intensity — along the storm’s predicted track.

“Using data received in earlier altimeter missions during hurricanes with wind speeds in excess of 155 miles per hour, we’ve been able to reduce our intensity prediction error by an average of five percent – and in some cases as much as 20 percent,” Miller said. “If we increase the accuracy of intensity predictions, we help save lives.”

During the Jason-2/OSTM lifespan, NOAA will work with CNES to handle the complete ground system support. This includes commanding all the satellite’s maneuvers, downloading all the data the satellite captures, and distributing it to weather and climate forecasters, who are monitoring ocean-born storms and phenomena such as El Niño/La Niña and global sea-level rise.

Additionally, Jason-2/OSTM will be the first, newly launched satellite in which NOAA provides ground support from its NOAA Satellite Operations Facility in Suitland, Md. The facility opened in 2007 and houses $50 million worth of high-tech equipment and controls nearly $5 billion in satellites.

“NOAA is definitely up to the challenge of providing smooth, continuous operational support for this mission, which is sure to bring tangible benefits throughout the world,” said Mike Mignogno, program manager for NOAA’s Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellites.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 70 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

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Jeff Alberts
June 7, 2008 6:26 pm

3.2mm/year?? Everything I’ve read till now has said 1-2mm/year which was in line with the historical average.

June 7, 2008 6:30 pm

No it won’t. If it doesn’t give the alarmist crowd what they want they will dismiss it, just like they will dismiss satellite temp data and Argos ocean temp data.

old construction worker
June 7, 2008 6:46 pm

When I first started my quest about global warming, I wanted to fine out about sea level change. I came to the conclusion that the scientist didn’t know if the sea was rising or land mass was sinking. It sound like more data that could be to be interpreted to mean anything.

June 7, 2008 6:52 pm

Excellent. I look forward to Jason-2 completely contradicting IPCC estimates. Much like AQUA has already done.

Brian Klappstein
June 7, 2008 7:37 pm

“…3.2 mm/year…”
Not lately. It’s been 2 years since a rolling 12 month average was above 3.2. The last 1 year rolling number available (centered late 2007) shows the one year average growth (fore and aft of that point) to be minus 7 mm/year.
No real surprise, what with cooling oceans, the currently waning La Nina etc. Of course, lets get ready for the chorus from the AGW alarmists:……altogether now…….”ITS NOT STATISTICALLY SIGNIFICANT!”
Not yet anyway…
Regards, BRK

June 7, 2008 7:39 pm

Vandenberg. — No “u.” Sorry, pet peeve. I covered the base for two years for the Lompoc Record.
REPLY: Fixed, thanks

David S
June 7, 2008 7:54 pm

3.2mm per year would be 320 mm in 100 years. That’s 12.6 inches in a century. Is this what they call a disaster?

Jeff C.
June 7, 2008 8:31 pm

David S. – my thoughts exactly. 12.6 inches in 100 years – good grief, the tide changes far more than that everyday and somehow a daily crisis is averted. I think with 100 years notice we can manage.

June 7, 2008 8:33 pm

I considered the sea level data as the most persuasive evidence for global warming. The only real explanation is thermal expansion. The contribution of melting glaciers is secondary. If sea levels are rising the ocean as a whole must be warming. And if sea levels are rising faster then the world’s climate must be warming faster.
Since then a number of respected scientists have disputed the IPCC’s estimates and predictions and their failure to account for the effect of recent El Ninos.
I now think the sea level data does not support the claim that warming has increased over the last 100 years. I.e. there is no evidence for AGW in the sea level. However, better data would be good.

June 7, 2008 9:05 pm

Well a Satellite launch by nasa, control by nasa, I’m not sure about the “real” data, coming from that, or you will have to be part of their “group” to access those real number.

June 7, 2008 9:08 pm

Sorry I meant NOAA instead of NASA.

Leon Brozyna
June 7, 2008 10:43 pm

Excellent ~ another data source that won’t require regular adjustments to make the data fix the models. I’m sure the real scientists out there will just love this. As for the other kind of scientists ~~~ I suppose they’ll have to draw comfort from their PlayStation® reality.

June 7, 2008 11:53 pm

@Brian Klappstein
currently falling sea-level at -7mm/year !
Can you give a quote for that ?

Jack Simmons
June 8, 2008 1:53 am

3.2 mm is equivalent to a stack of one penny and one nickel.
You better take a look at that before the carbon taxes or cap and trade programs take your last nickel.

Patrick Hadley
June 8, 2008 3:27 am

According to the Wikipedia article on ARGO the data produced by each of the 3,000+ buoys on temperature, location and salinity is available to anybody who wants to download them in almost real time.
Does any amateur actually do this and make available any current data on temperature trends of the ocean down to 2km below sea level?

Alex Cull
June 8, 2008 4:57 am

Without a monster sea-level rise of 1.5 metres or more (and the attendant problems of “climate refugees”, civil wars, pestilence, starvation, etc) it is very difficult to see anything particularly catastrophic about the prospect of more global warming, especially as the connection between warming trends and severe storms is decidedly dodgy. So what’s left to scare us with? Spring arriving a little early? Sinister green buds appearing in February? Frightening changes in butterfly migration? I don’t think that would make for a particularly thrilling Hollywood blockbuster, do you?

June 8, 2008 5:40 am

This has graphs and data:

Bill Illis
June 8, 2008 7:20 am

Actually, the TOPEX and Jason satellite data has been adjusted just like all the other climate-related data.
There has been periods where TOPEX was measuring a 5 mm per year increase in sea levels and times when it was measuring a 1 mm per year decrease. After the inevitable “errors” were discovered, the data was adjusted to agree with the (carefully chosen) Earth-based sea level gauges.

Brian Klappstein
June 8, 2008 10:27 am

“Can you give a quote for that ?”
Not in the peer-reviewed sense. The mean global data are available with a 10 day average from:
dating back to the end of 1992. To get the minus (-) 7 mm per year number used the “LINEST” spreadsheet function on this data, capturing a 1 year interval. The last full year in the data (digital year of 2007.27 to 2008.24 yields the – 7 mm per year. This rolling 1 year trend actually almost got to minus (-) 8 mm/year in the interval ending in mid February of 2008 but has since recovered a little.
The trend from the all time sea level peak of December 2005 to now is about -1 mm/year. However, there’s a lot of noise in the data, so the trend is not statistically significant. That being said, it is still down.
Regards, BRK

Brian Klappstein
June 8, 2008 10:48 am

Patrick Hadley:
“…Does any amateur actually do this?….”
A lot of databases on all of the climate stuff from outgoing longwave, to clouds to ocean temperatures are kept up to date and are free to download. The problem with these data is that the up to date versions are often only available mostly at very high temporal and spatial resolutions. In other words, you get reams of data for each day or less.
The databases are just too big to fit into conventional off the shelf spreadsheets, which are the standard tool of amateurs. However, a lot of data is kept up to date, in versions where all the daily gridded data is averaged into monthly global or hemisphere averages. This is true for the major global temperature (satellite, surface&SST) datasets and some other parameters like SOI.
However, if you want to track by the month the more exotic parameters like ocean depth temperature, cloud cover or the neutron count, I would think it would be almost a full time job downloading and manipulating the datasets into time series, using appropriate weighting factors.
Regards, BRK

Gene L
June 8, 2008 10:58 am

My only question is if NASA will continue to tinker with the data, as they are apparently doing with the GISS temperature database.

June 8, 2008 3:57 pm

“A new satellite set to launch next month will monitor the rate of sea-level rise”
Well, if it was designed to monitor the rate of rise, it will probably succeed in just that. I noticed they said rate of rise, not rate of change. The possibility that sea levels might not rise over time apparently hasn’t occurred to them. I hope a negative number doesn’t blow the on-board software up.

June 8, 2008 4:25 pm

I’m always amazed how the Pogie’s scaremongering is so successful. Thay rant and rave over a little bitty seal level rise when areas such as St. John’s New Brunswick handle 27′ tides on a daily basis.
Have you ever walked DOWN the gangplank 27′ to your ship’s deck after being out drinking for a few hours? Of course, that’s when men were made of steel and ships of wood. Now it’s the other way around.
Harumph… 12.6 inches in a century!
Jack Koenig, Editor
The Mysterious Climate Project

June 8, 2008 7:29 pm

Well, that screws up my plans for having beach front property.

June 8, 2008 7:41 pm

I think I would have noticed if the Florida Keys had disappeared under the rising sea.

Steve Stip
June 9, 2008 10:17 am

Science must be abolished! It is starting to give politically incorrect answers.
Don’t you scientist guys know when to quit?

June 9, 2008 10:52 am

Please correct me if I am wrong and don’t remember my science classes correctly but one thing I was wondering, wouldn’t the meling of the Artic ice cap actaully lower ocean levels? I mean ice is less dense than water and therefore displaces less water, so when it melts, it condenses and takes up less space, i.e. lowering water level??? Or does this only apply to small systems (like a glass of water with ice, as the ice melts the water goes down).

Steve Stip
June 9, 2008 1:43 pm

I’ll risk your question. The answer is that the ice in the arctic above sea level is about 11% if I remember correctly. This amount, which is not displacing water, when it melts, probably vastly exceeds the decrease in volume caused by the melting below sea level. Don’t ask me to do the math. But I might do it anyway unless someone beats me to it.

Retired Engineer
June 9, 2008 1:51 pm

MattV: Floating ice displaces it’s own weight of water. It will weigh the same before or after melting, so the net change is pretty small. Fresh water is slightly less dense than salt water, so melted, it will have a slightly larger volume than the salt water it displaced as ice. Slight rise. Ice on land is another issue: if it melts and runs into the ocean, bigger rise.
BTW, ice shelves don’t collapse. They float to begin with. They may break up and float away, more with a whimper than a bang.

Steve Stip
June 9, 2008 2:10 pm

Dang, my math is rusty but here goes. Floating ice has about 13% of its mass above the water line. When this melts its volume will decrease to 12.15%. The mass of the ice below the water line will shrink from 87% to 82.24%. So below the water line the volume will shrink by 5.76%. But this is offset by the 12.15% above the water line by 5.76%. So the volume of water from a melted iceberg will be 5.76% greater than that of the iceberg.

Steve Stip
June 9, 2008 2:12 pm

drat, I meant to say the “volume of the mass” not “mass”

Steve Stip
June 9, 2008 2:15 pm

drat again, make that second 5.76% 6.39% instead.
Keep your eyesight if you can folks.

Mike Bryant
June 9, 2008 4:19 pm

Have you priced beach front property lately?? I guess the market doesn’t put alot of stock in sea level rise. Seems like could get it at fire sale prices, don’t it?

June 9, 2008 4:25 pm

MattV wrote: “Please correct me if I am wrong and don’t remember my science classes correctly but one thing I was wondering, wouldn’t the meling of the Artic ice cap actaully lower ocean levels?
I raised that very question to Dr. Fred Singer a couple of month’s ago. His reply:
“Jack: Floating ice (sea ice, icebergs) melting will not increase sea level. Only ice from glaciers (non-floating) – Fred”
Jack Koenig, Editor
The Mysterious Climate Project

Steve Stip
June 9, 2008 7:58 pm

I seem to remember that what McGrats says is true. I did not take into account the different densities of fresh water versus saline. But I am sure there is a much more elegant way to look at the problem. It will come to me eventually.

June 10, 2008 6:15 am

Thanks guys, that does answer the question for me, so basically no sigificant loss or gain then. it was just a thought i had when reading about the changes in ocean levels and such. Thanks again.

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