ESA title
Revealing the colour of ocean life

Oceans of change

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ESA / Applications / Observing the Earth / Copernicus / Sentinel-3

Covering 70% of the planet, the oceans are intrinsically linked to our weather and climate. They are also essential for global transport and provide a wealth of resources.

What happens far out to sea has a direct impact on societies all over the world.

For example, the gigantic build-up of warm surface waters in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean characteristic of the El Niño phenomenon brings significant changes in rainfall patterns and regional weather around the world. Both El Niño and its opposite phase, La Niña, have widespread impact on the economics of crop production and food security.

Sentinel-3’s measurements of sea-surface temperature and sea-surface height will be used to monitor the onset and evolution of future El Niño events.

Safe passage
Safe passage

The surface temperature of the oceans also affects the intensity of hurricanes and tropical cyclones, which cause damage costing hundreds of millions of euros. Sentinel-3 will be a vital tool for closely monitoring changes in surface ocean waters, sea-state, sea-ice thickness and for estimating the heat content of the upper ocean.

The health and vulnerability of our oceans can put vital fish stocks at risk. Sentinel-3 will provide data for a variety of marine biogeochemical products to monitoring the health of our marine ecosystems, including algal pigment concentration, total suspended matter, coloured dissolved organic matter and Chlorophyll-a, amongst others.

Sea-surface temperature
Sea-surface temperature

Information such as this will, for example, help to improve the prediction of harmful algal blooms. In turn, this will help oceanic food sources to be managed more efficiently. The input of waste products into ocean and coastal waters can also be monitored so that the possibility of accidents and risks of major pollution incidents can be reduced.
Worldwide trade, 90% of which goes by sea, is expected to double over the next decade. This means that improved nowcasting and forecasting services are needed – not only to ensure safe navigation, but also for cost-effective and environmentally sensitive operations. Sentinel-3’s multi-instrument package will provide measurements of sea state, sea-surface temperature, sea ice, water clarity, biogeochemical parameters and surface wind speed – all of which are necessary for the day-to-day operations of the maritime service and maintenance industries.

While data from Sentinel-3 will be fed primarily into the Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service, all the Copernicus services will benefit to produce knowledge and information products in near-real time for a wide range of applications.

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