Jason-2 reliably delivers detailed oceanographic data vital to our understanding of weather forecasting and climate change monitoring.

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One of the major objectives of the Jason-2 Ocean Surface Topography Mission is to support operational oceanography. Oceans are a major source of food and employment, but can also pose a threat to lives and values, so operational forecasts of the ocean 'weather' are of critical importance.

The altimeters on Jason-2 are essential components of a global ocean observation system, providing co-located measurements of significant wave height, wind speed and sea surface topography.


Vital ocean data

Jason-2 provides data on the decadal (10-yearly) oscillations in large ocean basins, such as the Atlantic Ocean; mesoscale variability, and surface wind and wave conditions. This data is vital to our understanding of weather forecasting and climate change monitoring. Jason-2 measurements contribute to the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) satellite data assimilation, helping improve global atmosphere and ocean forecasting.

Altimetry data from Jason-2 have also helped create detailed decade-long global observations and analyses of the El Niño and La Niña phenomena, providing insights int ocean circulation and its effects on climate; ocean tides; turbulent ocean eddies, and marine gravity.

Short-range ocean forecasts

Webcast about the Jason

Short range ocean forecasts are useful in a variety of applications:

  • Sustainable management of ocean resources.
  • Monitoring of fishing vessel and merchant shipping fleets.
  • Safety of people and property at sea.
  • Environmental protection.
  • Harbour management.
  • Sizing of port and maritime structures.
  • Management and monitoring of coastal resources and environments.
  • Tourism.

Seasonal ocean forecasting

Seasonal forecasting aims to provide useful information about the climate that can be expected in the coming months. Having a precise knowledge of the ocean state is essential when trying to forecast what the climate will be like six months ahead, thus altimetrsource of vital data for seasonal forecasting models. Altimetry factsheet (PDF, 147 KB)


Changes in the energy balance between the oceans and atmosphere play an important role in the planet's climate change. From the seasonal to the decadal, or even the centennial timeframe, knowledge about the ocean state and its influence upon the atmosphere is one of the keys to climate forecasting. Jason-2 aids a better understanding of how oceans and climate interact.

Near real-time services

The Operational Geophysical Data Record (OGDR) is a real-time operational product specially developed for the Jason-2 mission. The OGDR is delivered with a short delay of three to five hours. The main geophysical variables in the OGDR product are: time; location; significant wave height; wind speed and the Sea Surface Height Anomaly derived from a very accurate rapid orbit.

Processing variables such as backscatter coefficients, geophysical corrections and altimeter ranges are also included in the product.

The product's primary purpose is to provide in near real-time data to meteorological organisations carrying out Nowcasting and operational wave forecasting. It also provides data on sea surface height anomalies.

Off-line services

The Interim Geophysical Data Record (IGDR) — sea surface data, produced within one to one-and-a-half days of being recorded. This record includes analysed data on sea surface height, absolute dynamic topography and ocean geostrophic velocities for medium-range weather forecasting, seasonal forecasting and ocean weather applications. Sea level anomalies are assimilated in seasonal forecast systems and for validation of mesoscale variability. AOML-NOAA produces the Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential (TCHP) product, used for cyclone intensity monitoring.

The Geophysical Data Record (GDR) — fully-validated data produced within three to four weeks of the events being recorded and covers sea surface height, principally for climate monitoring and climate modelling.

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