Ocean Stories

Tracking Groundwater Changes Around the World Using Satellite Gravity (March, 2015)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission provides the first opportunity to directly measure groundwater changes from space. For instance, it is estimated that the Central Valley aquifer in California has lost roughly 1.5 times the full volume of Lake Mead (40km3) during the last 10 years with about 30 km3 of this being groundwater.

A View from Above: Wastewater Diversion Plumes in Southern California (October, 2014)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Hyperion Treatment Plant (HTP) and the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) are wastewater treatment facilities that discharge into the Southern California Bight. HTP and OCSD wastewater is diverted on occasion to shorter outfall pipes at shallower depths that increase risks to human health and water quality. Here the utility satellite data to detect such diversions is examined.

Figure 2.  Anomaly SST and SST gradient magnitudes on 28 July 2014

Unusual summertime warming off California Coast (September, 2014)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Recently an episode of intensified coastal warming off California has been detected in satellite sea surface temperature (SST) imagery along many portions of central-to-southern California and down to Baja California.  This is an ongoing and highly unusual event during a seasonal period that is typically associated with strong coastal upwelling of cool subsurface water that chills the coastal...

NASA's RapidScat to Unveil Hidden Cycles of Sea Winds

NASA's RapidScat to Unveil Hidden Cycles of Sea Winds (July, 2014)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ocean waves, the hot sun, sea breezes -- the right combination makes a great day at the beach. A different combination makes a killer hurricane. The complex interactions of the ocean and the air above it that can create such different outcomes are not yet fully known. Scientists would especially like to understand the role that the daily heat of the sun plays in creating winds.

2014 sea level anomalies

Is an El Niño developing in the tropical Pacific Ocean? A comparison of the current warming conditions to the pre-conditions of the 1997-98 El Niño (May, 2014)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The normal condition of the tropical Pacific Ocean and atmosphere system is characterized by a warm pool of water in the west and a cold tongue of water in the east (off the coast of Peru), maintained by easterly trade winds that induce upwelling of cold subsurface water in the cold-tongue region and that push the warm-pool water towards the wes

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How can ocean currents help with finding a missing plane? (April, 2014)

Friday, April 4, 2014

After the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight 370 there was an immediate search to try to find the plane.   When satellite images showed that debris was found at multiple locations in the Southern Ocean, over a thousand miles from the southwest coast of Australia, many questions arose about how to track such debris.  Wh

Waves and Satellites: Chasing the Big Ones (January, 2014)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

To support surfers in determining where and when to surf, multiple services have developed detailed surf forecast products for popular and remote surf locations throughout the world. These specialized products utilize global wave models, which are augmented to include more detailed coastal locales and conditions.  Like global wave forecasters, these services also incorporate satellite data for...

AQUARIUS detects effects of an extreme Mississippi river flooding event (November, 2013)

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Mississippi River is the largest river in North America, draining ~41% of the contiguous United States. More than half of the freshwater input into the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) comes from the Mississippi River.

Sampling the Submesoscale Ocean in the Santa Barbara Channel (August, 2013)

Sampling the Submesoscale Ocean in the Santa Barbara Channel (August, 2013)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

NASA’s Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite, expected to launch in 2020, will measure sea level height variations on spatial scales down to a few kilometers.

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20 Years of Radar Altimetry (December, 2012)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Over twenty years ago NASA and French partners, CNES, collaborated on what became the first of a series of important oceanographic missions that have been measuring ocean surface topography from space ever since. This first mission, TOPEX/Poseidon (T/P), is no longer operational, having exceeded its expected lifetime of 5 years to provide over 13 years of data. Two follow-on missions, Jason-1,...

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