GlobCurrent: GlobCurrent

GlobCurrent aims to advance the quantitative estimation of ocean surface currents from satellite sensor synergy and to demonstrate the impact and advancements through user-led scientific, operational, and commercial applications.


The objectives of GlobCurrent are to

  • describe the theory behind algorithms implemented in ocean surface current products and validate the performance of these algorithms and products,
  • implement and validate three successive versions of the GlobCurrent system (prototype, demonstration, and production) and document their technical specifications,
  • plan and implement user-led application case studies to demonstrate the accuracy and impact of GlobCurrent outputs for a variety of scientific, operational and commercial applications (e.g. assimilation by ocean modelling systems, studies of sub-mesoscale and mesoscale OSC dynamics, improved ship-routing, applications in the renewable energy sector etc), and
  • federate the international user-producer community for ocean surface currents to develop scientific and end-user consensus on relevant technical and scientific requirements.

Project Summary

Thanks to satellite and in-situ observations, combined with high resolution numerical ocean models, the last decade has seen advances in the knowledge and views of the global ocean surface dynamics, filled with a large number of various mesoscale (~100 km) and sub-mesoscale (<~10 km) meandering surface currents and eddies.  However, we are now faced with the challenge of accurately quantifying the surface current associated with these mesoscale to sub mesoscale features.  Certainly, it not always possible to provide highly accurate forecasts of the locations and evolution of such frontal features and the eddies. This situation is exacerbated by a lack of regular high-quality in-situ observations with sufficient temporal and spatial resolution, which are needed to more fully characterize the relevant upper ocean dynamics.  A consistent and quantitative use of satellite observations aims to advance our understanding and reduce the knowledge gaps of the ocean surface current and upper layer dynamics, particularly at the mesoscale to sub-mesoscale.

Multi-variable observations from past and presently operating remote sensing satellite sensors, including altimeters (e.g., ERS, ENVISAT and others), gravity missions (e.g. GOCE), scatterometers (e.g., ASCAT), SAR (e.g. ERS, ENVISAT), optical measurements (ENVISAT MERIS, AATSR, MODIS Aqua), passive microwave measurements (e.g., SMOS, AMSRE/AMSR2/DMSP) will be consistently and systematically explored in a synergetic approach using available processing methods and tools. This project also anticipates a synergetic use of both satellite missions and multi-variable observations, including those of the coming Sentinel era.

Project Details
Funding Agency: 
European Space Agency
NERSC Principal Investigator: 
Johnny A. Johannessen
Coordinating Institute: 
Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center
Project Status: