Background to the Meeting


Ocean Surface Currents (OSC) are the coherent horizontal movement of surface ocean water with a given velocity and an upper boundary in contact with the atmosphere that persist over a geographical region and time period. Measurements of OSC are fundamental to our understanding of ocean circulation at all time and space scales yet remain one of the last physical ocean variables to be directly measured by a space mission at high fidelity and mesoscale resolution. Such measurements are required to drive scientific understanding of ocean/atmosphere surface dynamics, constrain and validate ocean forecasting systems, support marine industries, and provide government agencies sufficient information to develop and monitor marine policies. 

These requirements provide the scope for consideration of future missions. The key scientific aspects to consider for this include:

  • Addressing the lack of direct satellite derived OSC measurements for synoptically mapping ocean current systems (e.g. Loop Current, Gulf Stream, Agulhas, and others): in most areas no direct surface ocean current measurements have ever been made;
  • To monitor mesoscale ocean eddies from space requires a fine spatial resolution (e.g., 20 km or less) as well as a short temporal resolution (~ 5 days or less) especially in the coastal zones;
  • Improving our understanding of OSC mesoscale and sub-mesoscale dynamics and their impact on ocean/atmosphere heat, momentum, moisture and gas exchange, the hydrological cycle and the biogeochemical ocean cycles;
  • Improve our knowledge of how the transition between a quasi-2D (mesoscale) to a 3D (sub-mesoscale and vertical) ocean structure is manifest in OSC signatures; 
  • Improving our knowledge of the important role OSC play in long-term climate variability.
A variety of satellite missions and measurement techniques with complementary characteristics are available. Emerging technologies and novel mission concepts may open the door in the future to enhanced OSC observations at unprecedented resolutions. Against this background, the aim of this meeting is to: 

Review scientific priorities, assess new and emerging technologies, discuss novel mission concepts and advance towards the definition of the next generation of ocean surface currents measurements from space.

The meeting will be held immediately before the ESA DUE GlobCurrent User Training and feedback event which will take place at the same venue.  see http://www.globcurrent.org/news/current-community/item/537-annoucement-for-2nd-globcurrent-user-consultation-meeting for more details of the GlobCurrent follow-on meeting
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