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Oceanobs19: An Ocean of Opportunity

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Front. Mar. Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fmars.2019.00209

SKIM, a candidate satellite mission exploring global ocean currents and waves

 Fabrice Ardhuin1*,  Peter Brandt2, Lucile Gaultier3,  Craig Donlon4*,  Alessandro Battaglia5, François Boy6, Tania Casal4, Bertrand Chapron1, Fabrice Collard3,  Sophie E. CRAVATTE7, Jean-Marc Delouis1, Erik de Witte4, Gerald Dibarboure6, Geir Engen8, Harald Johnsen8,  Camille Lique1,  Paco Lopez-Dekker9,  Christophe Maes1,  Adrien Martin10, Louis Marie1,  Dimitris Menemenlis11, Frederic Nouguier1, Charles Peureux1,  Gerhard Ressler4, Marie-Helene Rio12, Bjorn Rommen4,  Jamie Shutler13, Martin Suess4,  Michel Tsamados14, Clement Ubelmann15,  Erik Van Sebille16, Maarten van der Vorst4,  Detlef Stammer17 and Pierre Rampal18
  • 1UMR6523 Laboratoire d'Oceanographie Physique et Spatiale (LOPS), France
  • 2GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel, Germany
  • 3OceanDataLab, France
  • 4European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC), Netherlands
  • 5University of Leicester, United Kingdom
  • 6Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), France
  • 7UMR5566 Laboratoire d'études en géophysique et océanographie spatiales (LEGOS), France
  • 8Northern Research Institute, Norway
  • 9Delft University of Technology, Netherlands
  • 10National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton, United Kingdom
  • 11NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), United States
  • 12European Space Research Institute (ESRIN), Italy
  • 13University of Exeter, United Kingdom
  • 14University College London, United Kingdom
  • 15Collecte Localisation Satellites (CLS), France
  • 16Utrecht University, Netherlands
  • 17Universität Hamburg, Germany
  • 18Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center, Norway

The Sea surface KInematics Multiscale monitoring (SKIM) satellite mission is designed to explore ocean surface current and waves. This includes tropical currents, notably the unknown patterns of divergence and their impact on the ocean heat budget near the Equator, monitoring of the emerging Arctic up to 82.5$^{\circ}$N. SKIM will also make unprecedented direct measurements of strong currents, from boundary currents to the Antarctic circumpolar current, and their interaction with ocean waves with expected impacts on air-sea fluxes and extreme waves. For the first time, SKIM will directly measure the ocean surface current vector from space. The main instrument on SKIM is a Ka-band conically scanning, multi-beam Doppler radar altimeter/wave scatterometer that includes a state-of-the-art nadir beam comparable to the Poseidon-4 instrument on Sentinel 6. The well proven Doppler pulse-pair technique will give a surface drift velocity representative of the top two meters of the ocean, after subtracting a large wave-induced contribution. Horizontal velocity components will be obtained with an accuracy better than 7 cm/s for horizontal wavelengths larger than 80~km and time resolutions larger than 15 days, with a mean revisit time of 4 days for of 99\% of the global oceans. This will provide unique and innovative measurements that will further our understanding of the transports in the upper ocean layer, permanently distributing heat, carbon, plankton, and plastics. SKIM will also benefit from co-located measurements of water vapor, rain rate, sea ice concentration, and wind vectors provided by the European operational satellite MetOp-SG(B), allowing many joint analyses. SKIM is one of the two candidate satellite missions under development for ESA Earth Explorer 9. The other candidate is the Far infrared Radiation Understanding and Monitoring (FORUM). The final selection will be announced by September 2019, for a launch in the coming

Keywords: Ocean current, Sea state, remote sensing, Doppler centroid, Radar, Delta-k interferometry, altimetry

Received: 05 Dec 2018; Accepted: 03 Apr 2019.

Edited by:

Sabrina Speich, École Normale Supérieure, France

Reviewed by:

John Wilkin, Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey, United States
Matthew Mazloff, University of California, San Diego, United States
Semyon Grodsky, University of Maryland, College Park, United States  

Copyright: © 2019 Ardhuin, Brandt, Gaultier, Donlon, Battaglia, Boy, Casal, Chapron, Collard, CRAVATTE, Delouis, de Witte, Dibarboure, Engen, Johnsen, Lique, Lopez-Dekker, Maes, Martin, Marie, Menemenlis, Nouguier, Peureux, Ressler, Rio, Rommen, Shutler, Suess, Tsamados, Ubelmann, Van Sebille, van der Vorst, Stammer and Rampal. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence:
Dr. Fabrice Ardhuin, UMR6523 Laboratoire d'Oceanographie Physique et Spatiale (LOPS), Plouzane, France, ardhuin@ifremer.fr
Dr. Craig Donlon, European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC), Noordwijk, 2201 AZ, Netherlands, craig.donlon@esa.int