This book offers a survey of the contribution of satellite data to the study of the ocean, focusing on the special insights that only satellite data can bring to oceanography. Topics range from ocean waves to ocean biology, spanning scales from basins to estuaries. Some chapters cover applications to pure research while others show how satellite data can be used operationally for tasks such as pollution monitoring or oil-spill detection.
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The remote sensing of oceans from space has developed rapidly since 1978 when the first dedicated ocean viewing sensors were launched. In 1991 the first European Space Agency remote sensing satellite carried sensors primarily for the ocean, heralding the widespread use of satellite date by oceanographes. In the mid 1990's the US/French TOPEX-Poseidon mission revolutionised the performance of satellite altimetry and since 1997 NASA's SeaWiFs mission has delivered operational measurements of ocean colour. The new millennium has seen the launch of several very large remote sensing platforms ans a number of smaller missions by ESA, NASA and NASDA, providing almost comprehensive worldwide measurements of sea surface waves and wind, temperature, colour, currents and other ocean properties. The increasing availability of so much satellite data has undoubtedly changed the way the science of oceanography has developed. The unique perspective provided by satellites has revealed previously undetected ocean phenomena, cast new light on old problems and opened the way for new fields of oceanographic study.
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