NASA will study the oceans with the launch of the SWOT mission

NASA will study the oceans with the launch of the SWOT mission

The mission will be launched in November 2022.
The mission will be launched in November 2022.

NASA is preparing to launch its Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT ) mission for November this year, with the aim of exploring how the ocean absorbs atmospheric heat and carbon.

While it’s true that climate change is driving sea level rise over the years, scientists also believe that differences in surface height from one place to another can affect the planet’s climate.

Currents and eddies are associated with these ups and downs, swirling rivers in the ocean, which influence how it absorbs atmospheric heat and carbon.

What is the SWOT mission

The mission is a joint effort by NASA and the French space agency Center National d’Études Spatiales (CNES), with input from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the UK Space Agency.

SWOT will collect information on the height of the oceans to investigate currents and eddies up to five times smaller than previously detectable. It will also extract detailed data on freshwater lakes and rivers.

Such observation of the ocean at small scales will allow researchers to analyze its role in moderating climate change. It is important to remember that the ocean is the largest carbon and atmospheric heat store on Earth, absorbing more than 90% of the heat trapped by man-made greenhouse gas emissions.

Much of that absorption is thought to come from that heat and the excess carbon dioxide and methane that produced it. This occurs around currents and eddies less than 100 kilometers wide. These flows are small when compared to. Currents such as the Gulf Stream and the California Current.

Bruce Dorminey
I'm a science journalist and host of Cosmic Controversy ( as well as author of "Distant Wanderers: the Search for Planets Beyond the Solar System."  I primarily cover aerospace and astronomy. I’m a former Hong Kong bureau chief for Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine and former Paris-based technology correspondent for the Financial Times newspaper who has reported from six continents. A 1998 winner in the Royal Aeronautical Society's Aerospace Journalist of the Year Awards (AJOYA), I’ve interviewed Nobel Prize winners and written about everything from potato blight to dark energy. Previously, I was a film and arts correspondent in New York and Europe, primarily for newspaper outlets like the International Herald Tribune, the Boston Globe and Canada's Globe & Mail. Recently, I've contributed to Scientific, Nature News, Physics World, and Yale Environment I'm a current contributor to Astronomy and Sky & Telescope and a correspondent for Renewable Energy World. Twitter @bdorminey