Monitoring The Oceans From Space

Course developed for EUMETSAT in support of the Copernicus Programme

Week 1: Oceans and Climate

What is Earth observation? How do you observe the oceans with satellites? What is the added value of the view from space? This week aims to introduce you to the basic concepts of how earth observation data is acquired from satellites, the underlying science that enables this and what it can help us to do.

Course introduction

Welcome to the course!

Topic 1a - Why satellites?

How we’ve progressed from ship and buoy based observations to satellites, building on this legacy of in situ data, and incorporating into models.

Topic 1b - The Copernicus Programme and CMEMS

Previously known as the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme (GMES), the Copernicus Programme is one of the biggest Earth observation programmes in the world.

Topic 1c - Climate change

Climate change is the hot topic of the moment. The oceans play a key role in the Earth’s climate system and are set to be affected by changes to it.

Topic 1d - Large scale ocean currents

Global currents transport heat and moisture around the world. How do the specifics of mixing between basins affect the global thermohaline circulation and both local and global climate?

Topic 1e - Data short: sea level rise

In this video our Lead Educator Dr Mark Higgins will give us a quick introduction on sea level rise.

Topic 1e - Sea level rise (part 1): overview with Dr Anny Cazenave

Sea levels across the globe are on the rise due to global climate change, and even a small, permanent increase in the global sea level could have major consequences for the Earth’s populations.

Topic 1e - Sea level rise (part 2): altimetry in more depth

How we can measure the ocean depths using altimetry

Topic 1f - Data short: sea surface temperature

In this video our Lead Educator Dr Mark Higgins will give us a quick introduction on sea surface temperature (SST).

Topic 1f - Ocean extras - El Niño overview with Dr Bill Patzert

In this ‘ocean extras’ video, Dr Bill Patzert from NASA JPL provides an overview and added insights into the El Niño phenomenon, and the role played by satellites in monitoring and predicting its impact.

Topic 1f - ENSO

The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a coupled atmosphere-ocean phenomenon with wide reaching impacts. It can be observed through satellite sensed sea surface temperature and height.

Topic 1g - Measuring sea ice retreat

Arctic summer sea ice extent is shrinking much faster than predicted by climate models. Satellite data from a variety of sensors are the main way to monitor the changes to the extent, concentration and thickness of the sea ice.

Week 1 Interactive exercise

Week 1 Interactive exercise

Course EO satellite missions table

Now that you have covered the initial topics in Week 1, we hope that you are starting to become familiar with key terms, technologies and names of satellite missions. You can download and use the table below to explore all of the Earth observation satellite missions that are mentioned throughout this course. You can refer back to this table at any time, and additional links to these missions can be found in each topic.

Week 2: Oceans, Weather and Hazards

The methods and technologies for observing and accumulating evidence about climate change, its impacts and solutions.

Topic 2a (part 1) - Weather prediction - overview

A look at how satellite data and other observations are assimilated into numerical models used in weather forecasting.

Topic 2a (part 2) - Sea surface temperature and weather prediction

The second part in a look at how satellite data and other observations are assimilated into numerical models used in weather forecasting.

Topic 2b (part 1) - Sea surface temperature and tropical storms

What role does the ocean play in tropical storm generation?

Topic 2b (part 2) - Altimetry in tropical storm predictions

What role does the ocean play in tropical storm generation? Part 2

Topic 2c - Storm surges and coastal altimetry

A storm surge is an unexpectedly high water level brought on by high winds pushing water towards the coast and low atmospheric pressure causing sea level to rise.

Topic 2d - Significant wave height

Using altimeter observation with forecasting models now increases the accuracy of wave forecasting.

Topic 2e - Predicting sea level rise impact

How we predict the impact of sea level rise

Week 2 Interactive exercise

Interactive exercise to consolidate what you have learned so far.

Ocean extras: The detail revealed by models

In this extra video, Dr Paolo Cipollini from the National Oceanography Centre, provides a brief insight into how using detailed computer models, in conjunction with satellite data, helps to reveal new and unexpected details about ocean dynamics.

Week 3 : Oceans, Weather and Hazards

How our oceans are moving and the importance of using satellite data when managing risks from ocean hazards.

Topic 3a (part 1) - Ocean transport - overview

Knowing how the ocean moves is crucial to understanding and managing risks from ocean hazards.

Topic 3a (part 2) - Argo floats and in-situ sensors

Looking at Argo floats and other in-situ sensors

Topic 3b - Ocean salinity

Ocean salinity and its impacts on the water cycle, ocean currents and the global climate.

Topic 3c - Data short: sea, wind and ice

In this video our Lead Educator Dr Mark Higgins will give us a quick introduction on sea, wind and ice

Topic 3c - Ice and icebergs

Icebergs can be detected by radar altimetry, the radar wave coming back earlier when bouncing on an iceberg. A second sight is then often made using SAR imagery, where surface roughness shows the icebergs in the image.

Topic 3d - Oil spill monitoring

Satellite data are used to provide decision support for oil spill response during accidents that release large volumes of oil into the sea.

Topic 3e - Data short: ocean colour

In this video our lead educator Dr Mark Higgins will give us a quick introduction on ocean colour.

Topic 3e (part 1) - Ocean water quality

Harmful Algal Blooms and coastal pollution can impact aquaculture, tourism and human health. The colour of the ocean is directly linked to the components of ocean waters that determine water quality.

Week 3 Interactive exercise

The interactive exercise for week 3

Ocean extras: Overturning circulation and the rapid array

In this ‘Ocean extras’ video, Dr Val Byfield and Dr Eleanor Frajka-Williams provide an overview and added insights into overturning circulation and the rapid array.

Week 4: Living Oceans

How EO data is used in policy and decision-making in climate resilience, adaptation and mitigation, and in sustainable development.

Introduction to ocean colour

An introduction to ocean colour measurements with Dr Hayley Evers-King and Dr Helen Czerski

Topic 4a - Phytoplankton and climate

The story of oceans and climate would not be complete until we explore the impact of weather and climate on marine life.

Topic 4b - Carbon and phytoplankton

Ocean colour can be used to estimate pools of different types of carbon in the ocean. This gives a global perspective on the carbon cycle - a key part of the climate change story.

Topic 4c (part 1) - Ocean colour and sustainable fisheries

Ocean colour provides information on primary production relevant to fisheries and marine ecology, which can be used develop Earth system models that help predict future climate change

Topic 4c (part 2) - Ocean colour and models

Ocean colour provides information on primary production relevant to fisheries and marine ecology, which can be used to develop Earth system models that help predict future climate change

Topic 4d - Sir Alister Foundation for Ocean Sciences (SAHFOS)

Scientists at the Sir Alister Foundation for Ocean Sciences (SAHFOS ) use plankton data recorded by the CPR survey to monitor changes in the marine environment.

Topic 4e - Biodiversity - Monitoring ecosystems

A diverse range of ecosystems, can be monitored using EO imagery. This can tell us a lot about large communities of organisms living in the ocean

Topic 4f - Biodiversity - Marine conservation

Tracking animals and combining the information they gather with satellite data can provide more information about both their behaviour and the validity of the satellite data products

Ocean Extras: Models and future missions for phytoplankton and biodiversity

Extra video on models and future missions for phytoplankton and biodiversity

Week 4 Interactive exercise

Interactive exercise to consolidate what you have learned so far.

Week 5: Oceans and Us

How the data and the science generated are used in policy and everyday life.

Topic 5a - Policy

Information provided by satellite sensors can support investigation of socio-economic issues surrounding the use of marine resources.

Topic 5b - Socio-economics

The information, which satellite sensors can provide, hugely supports the investigations of socio-economic issues surrounding the use of marine resources.

Topic 5c - Citizen science

Public observation projects and crowdsourcing are a great way of collecting in-situ measurements to help reveal parameters important for understanding the underwater world.

Topic 5d - Energy

Satellite data provides valuable information for developing technical specifications and environmental impact assessments for new infrastructure projects

Topic 5e - The future

Taking a look at the future of Earth Observation - new satellites and synergy between sensors.

Ocean Extras: Monitoring our own impact on sea level rise

In this first of two extra videos for this final week of the course, Dr Josh Willis from NASA JPL provides his thoughts and insights on the role of satellite data in assessing the ‘footprint’ of human activity on changes in the oceans

Ocean Extras: The people managing ocean monitoring satellites at EUMETSAT

In this second of two extra videos for this final week of the course, we hear from some of the people responsible for operating and managing satellites and data from the EUMETSAT satellite control rooms.

Week 5 Interactive exercise

The interactive exercise for week 5

Practical guide - Part 1: How to access Copernicus ocean colour data

Hayley Evers-King explains how to access ocean colour data from the Sentinel-3 satellite and work with it in the Sentinel-3 toolbox.

Practical guide - Part 2: How to access Copernicus sea surface temperature data

Anne O’Carroll remote sensing scientist at EUMETSAT explains how to access Copernicus Sentinel-3 sea surface temperature data and work with it in the Sentinel-3 toolbox

Practical guide - Part 3: How to access Copernicus Altimetry data

Bruno Lucas, Altimeter Data Processing Expert at EUMETSAT explains how to access Copernicus Sentinel-3 Altimetry data and how to visualize and work with it in BRAT.

Practical guide - Part 4: Visualising data in NetCDF format

Daniel Lee, Software & Data Format Engineer at EUMETSAT guides you through a variety of free and open software, for you to visualize NetCDF format files.

Final course round-up

Course round-up