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User consultation

ESA GlobCurrent – User Consultation Meeting

Location: IFREMER, Brest, France.

Date: 7-9 March 2012

Organisers: C.Donlon and O.Arino (ESA); B.Chapron (IFREMER), Local Organiser<



The GlobCurrent user consultation exercise (Phase-II) is now open! Please use the User Requirements Template here to provide your user requirements to ESA that will be used to scope the Globcurrent project.  User inputs must be provided no later than 15th November 2012.


Measurements of powerful, complex and highly variable surface and subsurface currents are fundamental to a large number of scientific and operational activities.  High-resolution ocean surface current information is required for a wide variety of applications including search and rescue, wave forecasting, seismic survey, ship routing, maritime security, marine accidents and emergency response, anthropogenic and natural pollution, offshore operations, aquaculture, offshore renewable energy, amongst others.  Understanding upper ocean dynamics at the mesoscale (10-50 km) and sub-mesoscale (< 10 km) is particularly important because the impact of these small ocean scales on the larger ones is far more significant and complex than previously anticipated. These scales play an important role in the redistribution of heat, salt, bio-geo-chemical tracers both in the open ocean and in the shelf/closed seas. Today, there is ample evidence that the mesoscale to sub-mesoscale variability is still not adequately resolved nor is its impact fully accounted for in the present operational models, in particular in the upper ocean layers. The decay of mesoscale structures is then generally too fast, and turbulent fluxes of tracer are systematically underestimated.

Earth observation provides a unique and increasing capability to measure and monitor ocean surface currents at a variety of resolutions and time scales. While some techniques are already available to derive surface ocean currents (e.g. altimetry, optical feature tracking), new techniques are emerging (e.g. SAR radial velocities, mean square slope from glitter patterns) that will be further developed in the Sentinel satellite era from 2013. Merging of complementary Earth observation (EO) and in situ data sources in optimised strategies and provision of uncertainty estimates for input data and merged products could provide improved outcomes for many applications.

The European Space Agency (ESA) is seeking to promote a wider use of ocean surface current measurements derived from all existing remote sensing sources including altimeters (ERS, ENVISAT and others), and SAR (ERS, ENVISAT and others), but also optical measurements (ENVISAT and others), sea surface temperature and salinity (SMOS and others) with future instruments including ESA Sentinels. The purpose of this User Consultation Meeting (UCM) is to bring users and experts in the field of EO (calibration, validation, data merging, algorithm development) and service delivery together to present their detailed requirements for ocean surface current products and services. Conclusions and stated user requirements from this meeting will be used to define the scope and develop guidelines for a potential Data User Element (DUE) project "GlobCurrent" competitively funded by ESA. GlobCurent will demonstrate the feasibility of a unified service for ocean surface currents linked to external user applications. 

See for other DUE projects.

Scientists, engineers and representatives from relevant EO, scientific and user communities were invited to attend the meeting to formally state their specific requirements for the information services to be developed by an ESA GlobCurrent Project. Experts in satellite earth observation were invited to present the state of the art in the application of satellite data sets for ocean current applications.


The agenda and presentations are available here