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.