French-US satellite set for June launch to track sea levels
Satellite Jason 2 will track ocean currents and rises in sea levels to help improve weather forecast.21 May 2008
WASHINGTON - A US-French observation satellite due to track ocean currents and the rises in sea levels to help improve weather forecasts should be ready for launch in mid-June, NASA officials said Tuesday.
"Jason 2 will help create the first multi-decadal global record for understanding the vital roles of the ocean in climate change," said scientist Lee-Lueng Fu, from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
"Data from the new mission will allow us to continue monitoring global sea-level change, a field of study where current predictive models have a large degree of uncertainty," he added.
Rising sea levels are one of the major consequences of global warming and one of the main indicators of climate change.
Data from previous missions showed that sea levels have risen on average by 0.3 centimetres since 1993, or two times more than they did in whole of the 20th century, according to marine measurements.
However, 15 years of data is not enough to draw long term conclusions, scientists said, hence the need for the new three-year mission by Jason 2 due to launch from California on June 15.
The Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM)/Jason 2 mission is a partnership between the US space agency NASA, the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, the French National Centre of Space Studies (CNES) and the European satellite agency EUMETSAT.
"People in coastal areas will benefit from improved near-real-time data on ocean conditions, while people everywhere will benefit from better seasonal predictions resulting from the increased understanding of Earth system processes enabled by these measurements," said NASA's Michael Freilich, director of the Earth Science Division.
[AFP / Expatica]