New Satellites Will Tell Us Exactly how Quickly the Oceans are Rising

Universe Today | 11/22/2019 | Staff
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One of the clearest signs of global warming, unless you live next to a glacier, are rising oceans. Now a joint mission involving the US and European countries is launching a pair of satellites to monitor the rising sea levels. The two satellites will monitor the oceans until 2030.

There’s more to rising oceans than melting glaciers and ice sheets. Ocean rise is also caused by the warming of the atmosphere. The oceans are like heat sinks, and as they absorb the heat from the atmosphere, they expand and rise. The pair of satellites will track that rise, providing important data for our efforts to adapt to climate change.

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“Global sea level rise is, in a way, the most complete measure of how humans are changing the climate.”

The pair of satellites are identical, and will be launched five years apart. Each one has an expected lifetime of about 7 years, guaranteeing that the two will overlap, and there will be no gap in the data. The mission is called Sentinel-6/Jason-CS (Jason Continuity of Service.) The satellites are named Sentinel-6A and Sentinel-6B. They’re built by German company IABG, and will be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in the US on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

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By the end of this mission, Sentinel-6/Jason-CS will have added to an almost 40 year record of rising oceans. The mission follows in the footsteps of four other joint U.S.-European satellite missions:

Collectively, the data from those missions shows that the Earth’s oceans are rising at an average rate of 3 mm (0.1 inches) every year. According to the IPCC, that rate has accelerated in recent history, and by 2100 the oceans could rise by a meter. While lowering emissions can potentially change that, these satellites will provide data needed to plan for it.

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“Global sea level rise is, in...
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