Press Release

Call for Media: new data on global sea level changes

By SpaceRef Editor
September 19, 2012
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A unique 18-year run of satellite readings showing global sea level changes in unprecedented detail will be unveiled next week. Media representatives are invited to Italy’s lagoon city of Venice on 24 September to find out more.

The data, obtained by radar altimeters on multiple satellites, show regional increases of sea level by up to 10 mm each year, such as in the Philippine Sea. Decreases of 10 mm per year have been detected in some areas. On average, the global sea level rises about 3 mm every year.

With this new, high-resolution dataset, scientists can get a much clearer picture on regional trends and year-to-year variations.

Media representatives will have the opportunity to discuss the data with scientists at the ’20 Years of Progress in Radar Altimetry Symposium’ at the Venice Convention Centre Palazzo del Casino on 24 September.

Held in a city where sea level is of particular significance, the symposium is organised by ESA in collaboration with the French space agency, CNES.

The week-long event will focus on the challenges overcome to develop our current understanding of Earth’s surface variations observed by radar altimeters – the spaceborne sensor that records the height of the global sea surface, freshwater bodies, land and ice.

Future developments to advance our understanding of oceans, coastal processes, the cryosphere and other themes like freshwater storage will also be discussed.

Programme 24 September

Opening session: 09:00-13:00

The symposium will begin with welcomes from the mayor of Venice, Giorgio Orsoni, the Head of the ESA Earth Observation Science, Applications and Future Technologies Department, Maurice Borgeaud, and the head of Earth observation for CNES, Pascale Ultre-Guerard.

Keynote presentations will highlight the challenges, results and future of altimetry.

The plenary session will also be streamed live on ESA’s website.

Press briefing: 13:00-14:00

During the press briefing, speakers will discuss the importance of radar altimetry to our understanding of climate. Particular attention will be paid to sea level rise and its impact on Venice.

Speakers will include:

*Pierpaolo Campostrini, Director of Consortium for Coordination of Research Activities Concerning the Venice Lagoon System (CORILA)
*Pascale Ultre-Guerard, Head of Earth Observation, CNES
*Maurice Borgeaud, Head of the ESA Earth Observation Science, Applications and Future Technologies Department.

The briefing will end with a question and answer session, and journalists will have the opportunity to interview the keynote speakers from the plenary session.

Media may attend the whole conference.

Media registration

Media interested in attending the conference are requested to register at:
Notes for Editors

About radar altimetry

Radar altimeters measure the surface topography profile along the satellite track. They provide precise measurements of a satellite’s height above the ocean by measuring the time interval between the transmission and reception of very short electromagnetic pulses.

A variety of parameters may be inferred using the information from these measurements, such as time-varying sea-surface height (ocean topography), the thickness of sea ice and altitude of large icebergs above sea level, the levels of rivers and lakes, as well as the topography of land and ice sheets, and – indirectly – even that of the sea floor.

The 2012 event in Venice takes place just after the 20-year anniversary of the launch of the first European Remote Sensing satellite, ERS-1, and of the joint CNES and NASA mission TOPEX/Poseidon. Both missions carried radar altimeters. TOPEX/Poseidon was followed by the Jason-1 and -2 missions, flown in 2001 and 2008, respectively.

ESA’s follow-up instruments aboard ERS-2, Envisat and CryoSat have ensured the continuity of radar altimetry measurements. ESA will launch its next radar altimeters with the Sentinel-3 mission within Europe’s Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programme.

About ESA’s Earth observation programme:

About the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space.

ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 19 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxem-bourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 17 are Member States of the EU. ESA has Cooperation Agreements with nine other Member States of the EU and is negotiating an Agreement with the one remaining (Bulgaria). Poland is in the process of becoming ESA’s 20th Member State. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.

By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.

ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities. Today it launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.

For further information, please contact:

ESA Media Relations Office
Communication Department
Tel: +33 1 53 69 72 99
Fax: +33 1 53 69 76 90

Robert Meisner
Communication Programme Officer for the EO Programme
ESA Communication Department
Tel: +39 06 941 80874
Fax: +39 06 941 80842

Julien Watelet
Media Manager CNES
Tel. 01 44 76 76 88
Fax. 01 44 76 78 16

SpaceRef staff editor.