In-depth information on both the salt and fresh water on our planet’s surface will be gathered by the multinational Surface Water and Ocean Topography project.
The Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite was safely launched into Earth orbit on December 16 by NASA from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on a Falcon 9 rocket. Both the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) of France are working together on this project (CNES). More than 90% of the planet’s surface is covered with some kind of water, and this expedition will examine it all.
The satellite will assess the depth of the ocean and Earth’s freshwater bodies, shedding light on the ocean’s role in climate change, the effects of global warming on lakes, rivers, and reservoirs, and the ways in which people may better prepare for natural catastrophes like floods. This is how the SWOT analysis will impact our understanding of Earth’s water:
- SWOT will conduct the first comprehensive survey of the world’s oceans and seas. The lack of water on Earth would make it impossible for life to exist. However, it also serves an essential purpose by absorbing and transporting a significant portion of the carbon and heat that are otherwise trapped in Earth’s atmosphere due to human activities. It also has an impact on the local climate and weather. Scientists may use SWOT to keep track of the water on Earth, including its current location, its source, and its projected future use. This is fundamental in comprehending the dynamic nature of water supplies, the effects of these shifts on local ecosystems, and the ocean’s role in shaping climate change.
- The satellite will answer some of the most important concerns about climate change. Determining the threshold at which the ocean slows down its absorption of extra heat trapped in the atmosphere and begins releasing it back into the air, where it might increase global warming, is crucial for making accurate predictions about our future climate. Since a result of the data gathered by SWOT, scientists will have a better foundation upon which to test and refine their climate projections, as they will have a better understanding of the worldwide ocean-atmosphere heat exchange. Furthermore, the satellite will aid in completing researchers’ image of how sea level is changing along coasts, providing information that may be used to enhance computer models for sea level rise forecasts and the forecasting of coastal floods.
- We can make informed choices based on the information gathered from the SWOT analysis. Earth’s water cycle is speeding up as a result of climate change, which is causing more severe weather events like floods and droughts. Therefore, certain areas of the earth will be flooded while others will be dry. Anyone that needs to monitor water in their locations will utilize SWOT data to track drought status in lakes and to enhance flood predictions for rivers.
- This mission is strengthening a long-standing multinational relationship and laying the groundwork for future NASA Earth missions.
- The water on Earth will be seen in more detail than ever before by SWOT. The freshwater bodies and oceans of Earth will be seen in unprecedented detail by the spacecraft’s research sensors. In order to better comprehend the ocean’s role in climate change, SWOT will be able to gather data on ocean features smaller than 60 miles (100 kilometers) wide. The oceans have taken up more than 90% of the extra heat in the atmosphere that has been created by human activities. A lot of this heat, and the additional carbon that caused it, may be absorbed by transient ocean phenomena like fronts and eddies, according to researchers. SWOT will produce a more comprehensive picture of Earth’s water budget by offering a high-definition perspective of freshwater bodies. Many large rivers are still a mystery to scientists because they cannot be equipped with monitoring gear for a variety of reasons, including their remote locations. For the first time ever, the spacecraft’s equipment will examine the whole length of virtually all rivers wider than 330 feet. Similarly, SWOT will increase the number of lakes bigger than 15 acres for which data is available from existing ground and satellite technologies from a few thousand to over a million.
- SWOT is paving the way for upcoming Earth-observing missions with its cutting-edge technology and dedication to include a wide range of individuals who will utilize the mission’s data. SWOT measurements, together with the tools to aid academics in evaluating the data, will be made available without cost. All kinds of people, even those who wouldn’t normally have access, will be able to participate in research and applications thanks to this.
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