Using the heavens to monitor the seas

National

FILE – In this Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012, file photo, pieces of stag horn coral are shown growing in Nova Southeastern University’s offshore coral reef nursery in about 22-feet of water, near Fort Lauderdale, Fla. A first of its kind assessment of the United States’ coral reefs is again sounding the alarm over the continued decline of these sensitive underwater ecosystems, which scientists deem essential to the health of the world’s oceans amid persistent threats from human activity and climate change. The report was released Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020, by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Maryland. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

Los Angeles, Cali. (WLNS)–On Saturday, NASA will launch a new satellite into earth’s orbit to help scientists study a growing threat. Researchers are hopeful the mission will help them better understand the dangerous rise in sea levels.

Ben Hamlington is a research scientist with the Sentinel-6 mission. The Sentinel-6 will use radar altimetry to provide near-real time measurements of sea-surface height; tracking changes down to mere centimeters. That high-precision data will help scientists better understand both the cause and effect of sea-level rise around the globe.

It will also record wind speeds and study the atmosphere, which will help scientists track climate patterns and better forecast the weather.

The satellite joins a fast-growing network of observatories from several space agencies working together to track climate change.

Researchers say understanding sea-level rise is among their most urgent tasks – with some u-s coastal cities like Miami, Florida already experiencing flooding from rising levels. The number of people living in coastal areas is expected to double by 2060.

Sentinel-6 is set to carry out its mission for at least 5 years. Its replacement, the Sentinel 6-b, is already slated to launch in 2025, to keep the study going.

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