2. Drivers and Trends for SOCD Research
2.6 Strategic Priorities
Strategic Priorities represent challenges to establishing NOAA capacities for satellite ocean remote sensing. Each Technology Area and Science Team has a fundamental role in enabling the capacities.
2.6.1 Research to Operations
Research to Operations encompasses a spiral process for developing and maintaining end-to-end operational science, employing a user requirement framework in conjunction with a satellite ocean remote sensing knowledge base, technology and product development, a utilization scheme, and feedback and refinement for further definition of requirements and development. The Research to Operations Priority encompasses operational, as well as developmental, data streams. The data and product streams are designed to meet user requirements and fulfill NOAA's mission and strategic objectives by developing, building, and providing the capacity for satellite ocean remote sensing data products and services, consistent with IOOS and GOOS frameworks. To this end, NOAA and NASA have embarked on a concerted effort to transition NASA research to NOAA operations, initially focusing on altimetry, scatterometry, and ocean color. Transitioning these data streams requires also transitioning associated calibration and validation capabilities and capacities. Future opportunities may also include sea-surface salinity and interferometric synthetic aperture radar following the launch and validation of the NASA's Aquarius mission and approval of InSAR. NOAA satellite ocean remote sensing activities also require transition to operations in order to fulfill mission and user requirements.
Figure 6. Transitioning products and processes from research to operations is a cyclical process.
NOAA CoastWatch/OceanWatch is the vehicle for transitioning developmental satellite ocean remote sensing processes, products, and services into operational status and is the NESDIS focus for definition, development, and support of operational satellite remote sensing functions in NOAA. NOAA CoastWatch/OceanWatch partners with other NOAA elements, forming a regional node structure to implement operational satellite ocean remote sensing within NOAA. This structure parallels and will support the planned structure for the IOOS and its Regional Associations.
Future satellite applications for planned operational capabilities (NPOESS, GOES-R, JASON 2, and IJPS) are given exposure for community feedback and user capacity building in the form of new experimental products. Education and outreach, consequently, constitute a significant component of this strategic priority, with the goal to familiarize the public with satellite ocean remote sensing data, facilitate its interpretation, and expand its use. NOAA CoastWatch/OceanWatch and CIOSS provide the focus for SOCD's education and outreach efforts.
2.6.2 Fundamental Research
Office of Research and Applications pioneered a number of highly successful heritage remote sensing products from the operational POES and GOES series over ocean. We will continue to serve as the "corporate memory" for existing products, and continue fundamental cutting edge research into development of new remote sensing methodologies with the heritage platforms and sensors. We will also actively participating in shaping new remote sensing missions, sensors, and retrieval methodologies from them.
2.6.3 Quality Assurance, Calibration, and Validation
The calibration of satellite instruments and the quality control/assurance and validation of their data and products are fundamental necessities for ensuring data precision, accuracy, representativeness, and quality. The main objective of the calibration/validation strategic priority is to provide satellite ocean remote sensing observations with defined uncertainties to the operational and scientific communities, which will be achieved by developing, monitoring, and maintaining uncertainty budgets. These activities are critical for the appropriate and effective assimilation of satellite data into numerical models and the inclusion of satellite data in climate data records. In addition to the initial certification of new satellites (NPOESS, JASON-2, GOES-R), operational satellites, require ongoing evaluation of algorithms, data, and products to ensure requirements and specifications continue to be met, despite any changes of instrument operating characteristics.
2.6.4 Data Assimilation
Data assimilation provides a crucial link in transforming satellite ocean remote sensing observations into information for decision makers. Satellite data assimilation enhances the representativeness of the initial conditions and forcings used in numerical atmosphere and ocean models, thereby improving model skill and the analyses and predictions used by decision makers. The current challenge is data assimilation for separate atmosphere and ocean models. The future challenge is data assimilation for coupled ocean-atmosphere models. Data assimilation provides data fusion for observations from combinations of multiple instruments/satellites and in-situ observations, yielding "best value" analyses This strategic priority directly aligns with and contributes to the efforts of the Joint Center for Satellite Data Assimilation (JCSDA) to improve near-real-time and climatological forecasts. SOCD's role in data assimilation is to provide relevant data sets, along with the data uncertainties and the physics and algorithms used to obtain the retrievals.
The ocean component of the coupled ocean-atmosphere system responds to and influences climate variability while slowly reflecting climate change. These signatures, in turn, influence and drive the coupled ocean- atmosphere system. Because of the high heat capacity of water, while climate variability signals may be relatively large, e.g. El Niño, climate change signals in the ocean tend to be small, yet significant. Consequently, climate data records need to be precise and accurate, creating technological and scientific challenges to adequately measuring climate change over shorter time scales. Satellite ocean remote sensing provides a capability for evaluating climate-relevant parameters consistently on a global scale. Current climate-relevant satellite ocean remote sensing parameters include sea-surface height (global sea-level rise and thermal content), sea-surface temperature, sea-ice, ocean surface winds, and ocean color. It is important to establish climate data records for climate relevant parameters as soon as possible in order to have significant time-series for climate-related analyses and decisions. As science and technology evolve and improve, as well as through the acquisition of new information/data, existing climate data records need to be updated to reflect the best possible observation retrievals. Developing and maintaining accurate climate data records on a regional and global time-scale enable developing seasonal to interannual forecasts, assessing global sea level rise, and evaluating climate change, all key objectives of the NOAA Climate Mission Goal.