NASA Satellite Begins Orbit to Record Changes in Sea Level

NASA Satellite Begins Orbit to Record Changes in Sea Level

NASA’s Sentinel 6-Michael Freilich satellite will monitor changes in sea level for the next ten years.

NASA launched the first of two satellites designed to monitor the rise in sea level over the next decade on November 21, reports USA Today.

The Sentinel 6-Michael Freilich oceanography satellite will use positioning systems to measure changes in sea level that can be attributed to climate change. Data on atmospheric temperature and humidity will also be collected to help better weather forecasts and climate models.

“This thing has a radar that tells us how far away the satellite is from the ocean’s surface, so it bounces off and measures the return time,” said NASA project scientist Josh Willis. “And then it also has a bunch of positioning systems. So if you know where the satellite is, and you know how far away it is from the water, then you can use both of those pieces of information to tell you how tall the ocean is.”

Experts expect sea level to continue rising at increasing speeds in the years to come. The Sentinel satellite will document these changes “down to the centimeter for 90% of the world’s oceans,” says NASA.