Introduction

There are very strong links between satellite oceanography and operational oceanography. The development of operational oceanography has been mainly driven by the development of satellite oceanography capabilities. The ability to observe the global ocean in near real time at high space and time resolution is indeed a prerequisite to the development of global operational oceanography and its applications. The first ocean parameter to be globally monitored from space was the sea surface temperature on board meteorological satellites in the late 1970s. It is, however, the advent of satellite altimetry in the late 1980s that led the development of ocean data assimilation and global operational oceanography. In addition to providing all weather observations, sea level from satellite altimetry is an integral of the ocean interior and provides a strong constraint on the 4D ocean state estimation. The satellite altimetry community was also keen to develop further the use of altimetry and this required an integrated approach merging satellite and in-situ observations with models. GODAE demonstration was thus phased with the Jason-1 and ENVISAT altimeter missions (Smith and Lefebvre 1997).

Satellite oceanography is now a major component of operational oceanography. Data are usually assimilated in ocean models but they can also be used directly for

IFREMER, Centre de Brest, Technopôle Brest Iroise BP70, 29280 Plouzané, France e-mail: [email protected]

A. Schiller, G. B. Brassington (eds.), Operational Oceanography in the 21st Century, 29

DOI 10.1007/978-94-007-0332-2_2, © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

applications. An overview of satellite oceanography will be given here focusing on the most relevant issues for operational oceanography. The chapter is organized a follows. Section 2.2 provides an overview of satellite oceanography, its role and use for operational oceanography. Main operational oceanography requirements are summarized. The complementary role of in-situ observations is also emphasized. Main principles of satellite oceanography and general data processing issues are described in Sect. 2.3. We then detail key techniques of radar altimetry and gravim-etry, sea surface temperature, ocean colour satellite measurements in Sects. 2.4, 2.5 and 2.6. This includes measurement principles, data processing issues and the use of these data for operational oceanography. SAR, scatterometry, sea ice and the new sea surface salinity measurements are briefly described in Sect. 2.7. Main prospects are given in the conclusion.

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