OBSERVER: Copernicus Marine 2021 product release: upgrades across the Blue & White Ocean products

OBSERVER: Copernicus Marine 2021 product release: upgrades across the Blue & White Ocean products

OBSERVER: Copernicus Marine 2021 product release: upgrades across the Blue & White Ocean products

Thu, 27/01/2022 – 11:38

Monitoring the health of the Blue (physical), White (sea ice) and Green (biogeochemical) Ocean on a global and regional scale is essential for our understanding of the global climate system’s state at any given time. For those working with ocean data, the Copernicus Marine Service (CMEMS) provides a key service with its ocean product catalogue. A recent product release has brought significant updates to the CMEMS wave product portfolio targeting the Blue Ocean sector, as well as new products for monitoring sea ice.


Improved wave products boost support for marine transport and energy

Many maritime markets will benefit from these most recent wave product releases, published since December 2021. For example, the maritime transport and renewable marine energy sectors benefit greatly from real time Blue Ocean data. Copernicus Marine wave products, first launched in 2017, play a key role in ocean monitoring and help provide accurate forecasts.

In maritime navigation, wave products can be used to optimise routes. For instance, coast guard forces and port authorities will be able to use the information to reduce fleet fuel consumption. The new products could also help predict, and thus reduce, the potential environmental impact of drifting oil in cases of ship and platform spills. In the marine energy sector, these wave products contribute to optimising the identification of prime sites to harness wave energy.

As of this recent product release, near real-time wave spectrum satellite data is available as level 4 gridded data. These are products where gaps in the satellite observational data have been filled. They may be the output of a model or derived from multiple measurements, for example. Furthermore, multiyear data from the Chinese-French Oceanography Satellite (CFOSAT) Surface Waves Investigation and Monitoring (SWIM) instrument have been integrated. These data are available for the global ocean in the form of level 3 products, which are variables mapped on uniform grids. Level 3 products provide information that is close to reality, and therefore find use in being assimilated into forecasts, for instance.

Global-ocean significant wave height from near-real-time satellite measurements as level 3 swath data.


Another benefit of this product release is the provision of multiyear satellite products for significant wave height, which serve to develop a long-term record. At the regional level, there are also significant improvements. The Black Sea Wave Analysis and Forecast model product has been improved with higher spatial resolution. This helps users understand local physical elements that impact the Black Sea, by better representing small scale phenomena. There are now also hourly dataset updates in the North-West Shelf Physics Reanalysis model product.

In conjunction with the wave product advancements, sea level products have also been upgraded. Available since 1993, multiyear satellite sea level products are beneficial in monitoring the evolution of the ocean over time. They have now been reprocessed to improve data quality.


White ocean monitoring in Antarctica

As well as the wave and sea level products, there are new multiyear satellite products for sea ice, which is described through concentration (the relative amount of area covered by ice), extent (the total area with concentrations of 15% or more), and classification of first year (‘young’) or multiyear (‘old’) ice. The new Copernicus Marine products are for Antarctic Ocean Sea Ice Drift and Baltic Sea Ice Concentration, Extent and Classification.


Sea ice has been monitored using satellites since 1979. While the Arctic has seen a decline in its sea-ice extent, there is wide year-to-year variability in the Antarctic. During certain periods, Antarctic sea-ice extent has shown a slow increase, such as between 1979 and 2015, with a record high in 2014. However, since 2016 the opposite has been observed, with a record low in 2017, emblematic of a five-year period of below-average sea-ice extent.

Despite the lack of a clear trend, information on sea ice in the Antarctic is particularly important. Unlike Arctic Sea ice, which is generally thick, ‘multiyear’ ice, in Antarctica, most of the sea ice is ‘young’ as it melts away each austral summer. This makes it particularly vulnerable to changes in climate, as sea ice is influenced from above by surface air temperatures and winds, and from below by water temperatures and ocean currents. Monitoring Antarctic sea-ice drift is also crucial, since unlike in the Arctic, there is no landmass boundary, making it more likely for the ice to move north into warmer waters where melt will increase.

As well as providing critical information about the impact of climate change on the Antarctic region, these new and updated products will represent powerful tools for the research community, such as, for instance for ocean-atmosphere interaction studies.

For more information, visit the New Service Release announcement.



*The Copernicus Marine Service is implemented by Mercator Ocean International on behalf of the European Commission.

Thu, 27/01/2022 – 12:00

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