The 4th "Oceans fom Space" conference from 26 - 30 April 2010 - organised by the JRC, the European Space Agency (ESA), the US Office of Naval Research, Global (ONRG), the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) - is gathering specialists and experts on remote sensing of the sea to address every facet of satellite oceanography, including missions, satellites, sensors, passive and active techniques, calibration and validation, algorithms and models. The emphasis of the symposium will be on the key information provided by satellites to promote a sustainable use of marine resources and to improve our knowledge of the role played by the oceans in regulating climate.
Many climate indicators are in fact "marine" parameters: from the global ocean temperature, which tells about the distribution of heat over the planet (also by streams - key to Europe’s benign climate) to the mean sea level, observed by special orbital radars named altimeters or from the arctic and antarctic ice cover, and its seasonal changes, impossible to see globally, if not from space, to the global wave pattern, which is a reflection of the global wind field and the response of marine vegetation (planktonic algae, that is), and hence of the entire food web, to changes in CO2 levels. Monitoring these elements by satellite is crucial to "measure" climate variability as a whole, and determine what kind of reaction is needed.
At the event, which is held only once every ten years, scientists from the JRC's Institute for Environment and Sustainability present recent findings concerning the coupling between atmospheric forcing (i.e. climate), water circulation and algal blooming (i.e. the ecosystem base) in the European Seas, and in particular the Mediterranean. The analysis of a combination of optical, thermal and radar data, by European and American satellites, opens new perspectives for understanding - and monitoring - ecological processes in the sea. This knowledge is vital for a sound management of our maritime wealth and heritage, such as the Pelagos International Marine Mammals Sanctuary, a protected area in the north-western Mediterranean Sea.