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Ocean topography/currents

Ocean surface topography data contain information that has significant practical applications in such fields as the study of worldwide weather and climate patterns, the monitoring of shoreline evolution and the protection of ocean fisheries. Ocean circulation is of critical importance to the Earth’s climate system. Ocean currents transport a significant amount of energy from the tropics towards the poles, leading to a moderation of the climate at high latitudes. Circulation can be deduced from ocean surface topography, which may be readily measured using satellite altimetry.
Detailed MeasurementDescription*InstrumentsTimeline
BathymetryThe measurement of water depth. [Unit of measurement - m]6 instruments
Ocean dynamic topographyDeviation of sea level from the geoid caused by ocean currents (that is after corrections for tides and atmospheric pressure effects) - Physical unit: [ cm ] - Accuracy unit: [ cm ].12 instruments
Ocean surface currents (vector)Large scale horizontal flow of ocean water that is persistent and driven by atmospheric circulation. [Unit of measurement - m/s]6 instruments
Sea levelActual, local sea level inclusive of mean sea level and perturbations (tides, etc.) [Unit of measurement - cm]12 instruments
* Description adapted from WMO.
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