Ocean Surface Currents (OSC) are the coherent horizontal and vertical movement of surface ocean water (over a specific depth regime) with a given velocity and an upper boundary in contact with the atmosphere that persist over a geographical region and time period. The user portfolio for OSC measurements is extensive and includes: ship routing, offshore operations, ports and harbours, maritime pollution, ice forecasting, maritime search and rescue, offshore renewable energy, wave forecasting, operational oceanography, weather forecasting, sailing, navigation, hydrographic offices and navigation, fisheries, aquaculture, marine infrastructure design, environmental protection, oceanography and climate amongst others. OSC can be derived from space using a variety of techniques including altimetry, gravimetry, SAR radial Doppler, optical (VIS and TIR) feature tracking, passive microwave measurements, ice movement,inferred from scatterometry, and sun-glitter patterns. Sparse in-situ measurements including drifting and moored buoys, buoys, coastal HF-RADAR installations, ARGO floats, and ship measurements complement satellite measurements. Not all of these techniques have reached full maturity: each measurement technique has specific characteristics (e.g., resolution, coverage, accuracy, depth integration etc) that are complementary and there is scope for development of enhanced novel products, particularly through data merging and synergy.
The ESA Data User Element (DUE) is a programmatic component of the Earth Observation Envelope Programme (EOEP) with a mission to encourage long-term relationships between the user communities and Earth Observation. Against this background, the work-programme of the GlobCurrent project is intended to improve the uptake of satellite-derived OSC data by the scientific, operational and commercial user community. GlobCurrent includes the following activities: 1. Develop a framework (inter-comparison and trade-off analysis of algorithms and methodology) to use two-dimensional surface manifestations of OSC to infer the three-dimensional surface ocean (<50-100m) circulation through data-driven merging and synergy. A critical aspect will focus on understanding the information content of each technique in terms of OSC and how complementary data can be combined in the most optimal manner in a data-driven framework to support modelling. 2. Provision and maintenance of a uniform, harmonised, quality controlled, multi-sensor set of satellite OSC data and ancillary information (L2/L3), in a common format, with consistent characterisation of errors and biases. 3. Inter-comparison of OSC data with colocated in-situ measurements, ocean model data and cross characterisation between different satellite datastreams to establish product error and bias methodologies/information (uncertainty). 4. Provision and maintenance of merged (L4-synergy) OSC products (data driven) based on synergy between different satellite and in situ data at local, regional and global scales for user-driven applications including uncertainty estimation for each grid point. 5. Implementation of an integrated set of user-driven demonstrators based on satellite OSC data, and the operation and maintenance of these demonstrators for a finite period, to help the global user community make full use of satellite OSC data, to facilitate scientific, operational and commercial exploitation. 6. Development and maintenance of a GlobCurrent web portal providing a single point of reference for satellite and in situ OSC data together with associated documentation, search and data access, OSC community information, data calibration and validation information.
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