Monitoring Sea Level Rise: Jason 3 is the Next Generation

Sea level rise is on everyone’s mind, and accurately measuring it is more important than ever. The EUMETSAT (European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites) and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have been doing just that work for years, providing data showing a 3.3 millimeter sea level rise over the last 15 years with their Poseidon and Jason projects. With the outcry over the inaccurate science of the 2007 IPCC report about the Himalayan glaciers, it is imperative that the science supporting climate change information be as advanced and accurate as possible. Enter the Jason-3 programme, an international effort supported by the EUMETAST, the NOAA and the French Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES).

Photo Credit: milan.boers The Jason 3 Project will more accurately monitor sea level rise
The Jason 3 Project will more accurately monitor sea level rise

As of this week, 19 of the 31 EUMETSAT Member States have signed on to the new Jason-3 ocean altimetry satellite programme, providing €63 million in addition to the NOAA’s €100 million and the French space agency’s significant in-kind contribution, meaning the €252 million project will continue ensuring accurate and consistent measurement of sea levels.

For the last 18 years, the TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason-1, and Jason-2 projects have been monitoring ocean conditions. The current Jason-2’s Ocean Surface Topography Mission monitors climate change, ocean circulation and other weather conditions, most importantly the data required to measure sea level trends. Joint NOAA and EUMETSAT support for the project is critical.

“The fact that nearly 80% of EUMETSAT members, including all its largest Member States, are participating shows the importance they attach to continuing the mission begun so successfully by Jason-2 and that the solidarity among EUMETSAT Member States continues to prevail,” said EUMETSAT Director-General, Dr. Lars Prahm.

EUMETSAT is an intergovernmental organization based in Darmstadt, Germany. It includes 24 of 27 EU member states and seven more Cooperating States (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Iceland, Lithuania, Romania, and Serbia).

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