Freighters, cruise lines, marine rescuers and coastal managers are among those who could benefit from prototype three-dimensional, three-day ocean condition forecasts created with the assistance of NASA satellite data, computer models and on-site ocean measurements.
WIND DATA FROM QUIKSCAT
This is a QuikSCAT image of winds on the surface of the Pacific Ocean on January 8, 2004. Credit: NASA JPL
Scientists hope to forecast ocean conditions several days ahead, much like regional weather forecasts broadcast on television news. "Its a three-dimensional look at the ocean, from the surface to the ocean bottom," said Yi Chao of NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif., lead scientist on the project. Chao and three colleagues presented their real-time operational forecast system for the Central California Ocean at the recent Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society (AMS).
The end product from our 3-D ocean model includes temperature, salinity and current," Chao said. These are available as text or binary data, or can be visualized for further analysis. Seeing the ocean in three dimensions, and knowing how it will behave from top to bottom, will save fuel costs for large shippers by steering away from choppy waters, or moving with the current. The data will also help Coast Guard rescuers, as they would be able to determine which direction people stranded in the water would drift. Several satellite measurements provide input into the forecast system, including near-real time wind data from the Quikscat instrument on NASAs SeaWinds satellite; ocean height, including waves, measured from NASAs Topex/Poseidon and Jason satellites; sea surface temperatures measured by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations (NOAA) Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer instrument.
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