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Ocean Topography and Cryosphere (OTC) Branch/ Laboratory for Satellite Altimetry (LSA)

Ocean Surface Topography Science Team (OSTST)

The Ocean Surface Topography Science Team (OSTST) brings together international scientists to understand Earth’s oceans and their interaction within the climate system using ocean altimetry satellite observations. Since 1992, measurements of ocean surface topography have been provided by a series of U.S.-European satellite missions, which began with the TOPEX/Poseidon (1992-2005) mission and continued through Jason-1 (2001-2013), and OSTM/Jason-2 (2008-2019). At present, NOAA is partner in the most recent missions in this series, Jason-3, which was launched in 2016, and Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich (S6MF), launched in 2020. This international cooperation will extend into the early 2030s with Jason Continuity of Service (Jason-CS) mission on the two Sentinel-6 spacecraft (S6MF and Sentinel-6B).

Measurements of ocean surface topography from TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason, and Sentinel-6 satellite series have been instrumental in a wide range of oceanographic and climate studies, including observing and quantifying the rise and acceleration of the global mean sea level; improving our understanding of the ocean’s large-scale circulation and variability, understanding and prediction of interannual to decadal variability, characterization of the mesoscale eddy field, improving knowledge of the marine geoid and sea floor bathymetry, barotropic and internal tides, as well as supporting operational forecasts of regional currents, and hurricane intensity and marine wind and wave conditions. Many of those discoveries are made possible by the efforts of the previous OSTST members over the past 20+ years.

NASA and NOAA jointly select OSTST members of through a joint solicitation in Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Science. EUMETSAT and CNES make OSTST selections through a Joint Research Announcement (JRA). The NOAA Jason Program has supported OSTST investigations since 2017 to improve operational applications of altimetry including weather forecasting, hazardous waves, and the long-term sea level climate record. In Fiscal Year 2021 the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research provided matching funding through the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP).

2021-2024 OSTST NOAA Jason/Sentinel-6 Program Investigations

Investigator Institution Title
James Carton University of Maryland Improving Tropical Cyclone Intensity Forecasts by Assimilating Ocean Surface Drifter paths with altimeter sea level in a Coupled Atmosphere-Ocean Forecast System
Alejandro Egido Global Science & Technology, Inc. Towards an Improved Reconciliation of High- and Low-Resolution Ocean Altimeter Measurements Under Changing Surface Wave Structure Conditions
Sinead Farrell University of Maryland High-Latitude Multi-Altimeter Observations of the Arctic Ocean and its Sea Ice Cover
John Wilkin Rutgers University Mesoscale to submesoscale ocean state estimation by 2-way nested 4-dimensional variational data assimilation utilizing multi-mission nadir altimetry with supporting high resolution satellite and in situ observations

2017-2020 OSTST NOAA Jason Program Investigations

Investigator Institution Title
Don Chambers University Of South Florida Analysis of kinetic energy and structure functions from along-track and crossover altimeter data
Alejandro Egido University of Maryland Development of Fully-Focused SAR Altimetry for Oceanographic Applications
Sinead Farrell University of Maryland Altimetry of the Arctic Ocean and Subpolar Seas: Investigating Changes in Circulation and Dynamic Topography
Steve Penny University of Maryland Operational Ocean Data Assimilation to Improve Upper Ocean Current Estimates for Global Ocean Monitoring, Coupled Climate Forecasts, and Coupled Hurricane Forecasts
Douglas Vandemark University of New Hampshire Multi sensor air-sea interaction process studies using the satellite altimeter constellation

Cooperative Institute for Satellite Earth System Studies (CISESS) Annual Reports

The OSTST meets annually to evaluate relevant mission activities such as data calibration and validation, data processing, and mission science objectives. It is also an opportunity for mission scientists to learn about other research and applications of ocean altimetry data from their colleagues, partners and other project members. Meeting presentations and reports are available from AVISO