Paradoxically, the alert was made possible by an object over twenty thousand miles above---an ocean and weather observation satellite. It had picked up changes in the color of the water and the increase of chlorophyll that signaled the arrival of algal pollution. And it had also measured the wave height and projected speed and the direction which the ocean current would take to threaten the oyster beds.
That is a real example of how the latest generation of observation satellites are unlocking the secrets of the seas to provide vital operational information for the many activities that depend directly on the health of the oceans every day—agriculture on land, aircraft in the sky, and fishing fleets, and shipping and passenger liners on the oceans.
The critical role of satellites in measuring climate change
The oceanography satellites are probing the behavior and dynamics of oceans to better understand how seventy per cent of the Earth’s surface covered by the waters affects our planet’s climate---and climate change.
As recent reports dramatically demonstrate, global climate change is an increasing threat---and satellite observation can provide vital information to address it.
Why and how are the ice caps and glaciers melting? Why and how are the levels of the oceans rising? Why is the Great Barrier Reef and precious coral everywhere deteriorating so quickly? And why are certain marine species dying out and some marine vegetation like algae growing exponentially?
All of these questions and others related to the marine world are the keys to understanding how the Earth is reacting to global warming and pollution and what can be done to address urgently the source of the historic threat.
Increasingly precise images and continuous coverage
“Today’s satellites are much more precise in their images and they communicate them at a much faster rate.” Says Sandrine Mathieu, Product Line Manager for Meteorology and Oceanography at Thales Alenia Space, “And we at Thales Alenia Space have developed innovative technologies that measure the height of water and waves---absolutely essential in understanding the oceans and the ice caps for short and long-term forecasting”.
They are the subject of intense and precise surveillance and measurement by the increasingly-powerful oceanography and weather observation satellites that have become a special expertise of Thales Alenia Space since they were first launched over three decades ago.
As a specialist in satellite technology, including optics and radar, Thales Alenia Space has been at the heart of Earth Observation technology since its beginning as satellite designer and manufacturer and is today the leader in increasingly-accurate meteorology by satellite.
Working together to address climate change
Since 1977, Thales Alenia Space has been the leader in all of Europe’s geostationary weather satellite programs--Meteosat, MSG, and MTG-- and has built them with more than one hundred European partners. Today, Thales Alenia Space is playing a leading role in the new Sentinel family of satellites for Europe’s Copernicus program of environmental monitoring and management. Itaims at achieving a global, continuous, autonomous, high quality wide range Earth observation capacity.
Sandrine Mathieu concludes, “Along with the more powerful capabilities that we are building into satellites for weather observation, our satellite oceanography technologies are giving us much greater insight into the reality of climate change. When you work at Thales Alenia Space and with our partners every day on the tools tracking those changes, it convinces you that we all must work together to address the issues that are threatening our planet and our future”.