Free course shows satellites’ role in monitoring oceans’ influence on weather, climate

The devastation wrought in America and the Caribbean by hurricanes, the health of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and the impact of sea surface temperature in the Pacific on weather in Europe might not seem to have much in common.

Monday, 25 September 2017

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But a free, online course starting 16 October will help anyone with an interest in the weather, climate and the marine environment gain a deeper understanding of the interconnections between the state of the Earth’s oceans and our everyday lives.

EUMETSAT, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, is re-offering its popular, EU-funded massive open online course, “Monitoring the Oceans from Space” to anyone who wishes to learn more about how satellites contribute to our understanding of the oceans.

Extra tutorials on accessing free data

“The level of interest in the first course from people right around the world surpassed our expectations so we have decided to run it again,” EUMETSAT Training Manager Dr Mark Higgins said. “It now includes extra tutorials explaining how people can access the array of satellite data that is available, for free, to the public.

“This course will give people a whole new perspective on the world because satellite observations provide a completely different way of looking at how things are interconnected.

“Data from Earth observation satellites are crucial to efforts to better understand the health of our oceans because only satellites can give that truly global perspective.”

From storm surges to icebergs

The course is presented by physicist, oceanographer and BBC science presenter Dr Helen Czerski of University College London, marine Earth observation scientist Dr Hayley Evers-King of Plymouth Marine Laboratory and Dr Higgins.

"Data from Earth observation satellites are crucial to efforts to better understand the health of our oceans"

It brings together recognised experts from around Europe, and further afield, to offer an interactive learning experience covering topics such as why satellite data are used, the oceans and climate, weather and hazards such as tropical storms, storm surges and icebergs, and monitoring water quality.

“A key part of the course involves showing people how to access the wealth of ocean data that is being collected by satellites every day,” Dr Higgins said.

“It is suitable for anyone with an interest in the marine environment including those involved in tourism and diving, ocean transport or sailing, coastal planning, aquaculture and fishing, marine biology and those who just want a deeper understanding of our planet and its climate and weather.”

The amount of available marine Earth observation data vastly increased after the launch in 2016 of the Sentinel-3 satellite, which is part of the EU’s flagship environmental programme, Copernicus. EUMETSAT is responsible for the day-to-day operations of Sentinel-3 and for processing and disseminating its marine data stream. One of the main users of the data is the Copernicus Marine Environment Service, where experts interpret and make available data relating to four key application areas: marine resources, maritime safety, coastal and marine environment and climate monitoring.

Registrations for the course are now open.

About the MOOC

• The “Monitoring the Oceans from Space” MOOC is funded by the EU’s Copernicus Programme.
• It was developed by Imperative Space in partnership with Plymouth Marine Laboratory, the National Oceanography Centre (Southampton), CLS France and NASA JPL.
• It will run for three hours per week and provide an interactive learning environment through entertaining lecture videos featuring leading scientists, tutorials, quizzes and learning apps.
• The MOOC will explain how to access and use marine Earth observation data and information from Copernicus/EUMETSAT missions and the Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service.

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