Surface Water and Ocean Topography

A NASA-CNES space mission  which will monitor river information such as surface elevation, width, slope and estimated river discharge) at a global scale starting from 2022.

"With its two radar antennas perched at the end of a 10-metre boom, KaRIn will afford continuous coverage of a 120-kilometre swath where current radar altimeters are restricted to a strip of a few kilometres directly below the satellite. Thanks to this wide ground track, KaRIn will be able to acquire measurements of surface water height in more than 100-metre-wide rivers as well as lakes and flood zones with a surface area of  250 m x 250 m, with a 10-metre accuracy, and to quantify slopes with a 1.7cm/km accuracy (after averaging on a >1 km2 water surface area)" (CNES, 2021).

"Combined with high-precision geoid models from the GOCE satellite and precise digital terrain models, SWOT data will radically improve hydrodynamic models used to estimate river discharges. They will also help to determine temporal variations in surface water stocks (lakes, reservoirs and wetlands) covering more than 250 square metres and in flow dynamics. To give an idea, it is estimated there are more than 30 million lakes larger than 1 hectare in the world" (CNES, 2021).

"Oceanographers are also eagerly awaiting SWOT, as KaRIn will be able to see mesoscale and sub-mesoscale circulation patterns covering several hundred to several tens of km, like eddies and filaments, to characterize their very dynamic vertical transport, and to study coastal circulation and refine current ocean and climate prediction models, all with centimetre accuracy" (CNES, 2021).




Centre national d'études spatiales. 2021. Surface Water and Ocean Topography.

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Describe experience relating to water and space technologies

I grew up in a country (France) where water is freely available. The drought in 2003 was considered a one-time event. I had no single lesson on climate change at school. Despite this background, I was raised aware of the links between social and environmental inequality on a global scale.