Ocean Satellite Research Impact Study

Lead Research Organisation: National Oceanography Centre


Remote sensing plays an increasingly important role in all aspects of marine science. Satellite sensors such as synthetic aperture radar (SAR), radar altimeters, radar scatterometers, optical imaging spectrometers, and passive radiometers routinely provide globally distributed data on surface winds, wave height, propagation of swell waves, sea surface temperature, sea surface salinity, sea surface height, sea level, currents, water clarity, sediment transport. Remote sensing also includes ground-based systems, especially radars, which can provide alternative means of monitoring aspects of the environment of relevance to the MoD.

An earlier collaboration between NOC and DSTL, along with the UK Hydrographic Office, has considered the utility of NOC's remote sensing and modelling capabilities to the MoD. This focused on remote sensing of bathymetry and the detection of objects on the seabed, although other applications were also briefly discussed.

An area of particular interest to the MoD, in the context of the proposed review, is the potential for satellite sensing to provide information about 'ocean volume', i.e. the ocean domain between the surface and sea floor. This calls for information about ocean currents, eddies and fronts, water clarity, biological productivity, salinity etc., all of which are available in near real-time from a range of Earth observation satellites operated by NASA, ESA and EUMETSAT (European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites). The development of systems that can take advantage of the various satellite technologies and use synergies between sensors to provide information on key variables of the marine environment is of high interest to the RN and MoD. Such systems would also have considerable commercial value and wider societal benefits. Marine and maritime remote sensing from satellites systems is therefore a key area where NERC research has a great potential for increased impact in relation to the RN and MoD.

The Ocean Satellite Research Impact Study (OSRIS) project proposes to review and assess NERC strategic research related to the development and application of remote sensing technologies with potential for providing marine data and information relevant to the Royal Navy (RN) and Ministry of Defense (MoD). This includes technical research to develop and test remote sensing instrumentation, satellite systems, geophysical inversion algorithms and data processing systems, as well as scientific research that exploits satellite data to monitor marine environments. The project will also considers research related to non-marine satellite remote sensing with potential for providing information of interest to the RN and MoD.

The overarching objective of the proposed project is therefore to identify NERC strategic research of current or potential benefit to the RN and MoD by carrying out a comprehensive review of past and current NERC activities involving satellite technologies, to assess their relevance to the MoD in discussion with the MoD, and to establish the potential of satellite remote sensing methods for supporting RN operations now and in the future.


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Description This was a review project, looking at NERC-funded research in the applications of satellite data that might be of interest to the MoD. None of the methodologies are taken forward in funded collaborations with the MoD. However, the methodology for shoreline monitoring and intertidal bathymetry using the water line method identified by the review in this project is now being taken forward in a new sustainable development project funded by the European Space Acency.
Exploitation Route Many of the research methodologies identified in the review have wider application with societal benefits. NOC is taking some of these forward, in collaboration with other partners as part of an overseas development aid framework.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Environment,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Transport

Description The study has identified a number of areas in NERC-funded remote sensing research, which have potential future government applications.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Education,Environment
Impact Types Economic,Policy & public services

Description Knowledge exchange workshop with DSTL and Atlas Elektronik UK Ltd 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact NERC-funded scientists presented selected case studies from their research to DSTL and Atlas Elecktronik UK Ltd. A discussion followed do establish which aspects of the research would be of interest to the Navy and MoD, and to agree the way forward regarding further research needed. The participants agreed that a research 'Sandpit' of a week might be a useful way of taking selected ideas forward.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
Description OSRIS / MarCE Update Meeting - 10 December 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation of NOC research in satellite oceanography to DSTL and Atlas Elektronik UK Ltd. Discussion of aspects of particular interest to the Navy and MoD.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015