The Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission: Opportunities and challenges

Dr Shane Keating1

1UNSW Sydney, Sydney, Australia

In the coming decade, new satellite missions will map Earth’s surface water and sea level (ocean topography) at a resolution that has not been possible before. These observations will provide critical information that is needed to assess water resources on land, track regional sea level changes, monitor coastal processes, and observe small-scale ocean currents and eddies. The first of these satellites, the NASA/CNES Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission, is scheduled for launch in late 2021.

In this talk, I will present an overview of the SWOT mission objectives and discuss future challenges and opportunities for operational oceanography in the region. I will also outline the goals and activities of the Australian Surface Water and Ocean Topography Working Group (, a consortium of researchers and stakeholders in academia, government, and industry working to develop Australia’s capability in the field of wide-swath altimetry.

I am a Senior Lecturer at the School of Mathematics and Statistics at UNSW Sydney. My research focuses on utilizing new developments in the fields of applied mathematics, satellite remote sensing, and physical oceanography to understand the influence of mesoscale and submesoscale ocean features on ocean circulation, climate, and marine ecology.

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