NOAA satellite to track sea levels

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration plans to launch a new satellite in June to monitor the rate of sea-level rise and measure the strength of hurricanes.

The Jason-2/OSTM satellite employs a radar altimeter instrument to monitor 95 percent of Earth's ice-free oceans every 10 days, and will enhance data collection that NOAA has been performing for the past 15 years. Earlier data shows that the sea level is rising at a rate of 3.2 milllimeters per year'a rate that is nearly twice that of 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 Laury Miller, chief of NOAA's Laboratory for Satellite Altimetry.

In addition to measuring changing sea levels, data from Jason-2/OSTM will be used to help predict hurricanes and tropical storms. According to Miller, NOAA will use the altimeter measurements to monitor ocean heat content, which can indicate an increase in the intensity of such storms.

Jason-2/OSTM is scheduled for liftoff June 15 and 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).

About the Author

Patrick Marshall is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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