SEASTAR: A mission to study ocean submesoscale dynamics and small-scale atmosphere-ocean processes in coastal, shelf and polar seas

Christine Gommenginger*, Bertrand Chapron, Andy Hogg, Christian Buckingham, Baylor Fox-Kemper, Leif Eriksson, Francois Soulat, Clement Ubelmann, Francisco Ocampo-Torres, Bruno Buongiorno Nardelli, David Griffin, Francisco Lopez-Dekker, Per Knudsen, Ole B. Andersen, Lars Stenseng, Neil Stapleton, Will Perrie, Nelson Violante-Carvalho, Johannes Schulz-Stellenfleth, David WoolfJordi Isern-Fontanet, Fabrice Ardhuin, Patrice M. Klein, Alexis Mouche, Ananda Pascual, Xavier Capet, Daniele Hauser, Ad Stoffelen, Rosemary A. Morrow, Lotfi Aouf, Øyvind Breivik, Lee Lueng Fu, Johnny A. Johannessen, Yevgeny Aksenov, Lucy Bricheno, Joel Hirschi, Adrien C. Martin, Adrian P. Martin, George Nurser, Jeff Polton, Judith Wolf, Harald Johnsen, Alexander Soloviev, Gregg Jacobs, Fabrice Collard, Steve B. Groom, Vladimir Kudryavstev, John L. Wilkin, Victor Navarro, Alex Babanin, Matthew J. Martin, John Siddorn, Andy Saulter, Tom Rippeth, William Emery, Nikolai Maximenko, Roland Romeiser, Hans Graber, Aida Alvera-Azcárate, Chris Hughes, Doug Vandemark, Jose da Silva, Peter Jan Van Leeuwen, Alberto Naveira-Gabarato, Johannes Gemmrich, Amala Mahadevan, Jose Marquez, Yvonne Munro, Sam Doody, Geoff Burbidge

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)
51 Downloads (Pure)


High-resolution satellite images of ocean color and sea surface temperature reveal an abundance of ocean fronts, vortices and filaments at scales below 10 km but measurements of ocean surface dynamics at these scales are rare. There is increasing recognition of the role played by small scale ocean processes in ocean-atmosphere coupling, upper-ocean mixing and ocean vertical transports, with advanced numerical models and in situ observations highlighting fundamental changes in dynamics when scales reach 1 km. Numerous scientific publications highlight the global impact of small oceanic scales on marine ecosystems, operational forecasts and long-term climate projections through strong ageostrophic circulations, large vertical ocean velocities and mixed layer re-stratification. Small-scale processes particularly dominate in coastal, shelf and polar seas where they mediate important exchanges between land, ocean, atmosphere and the cryosphere e.g. freshwater, pollutants. As numerical models continue to evolve towards finer spatial resolution and increasingly complex coupled atmosphere-wave-ice-ocean systems, modern observing capability lags behind, unable to deliver the high-resolution synoptic measurements of total currents, wind vectors and waves needed to advance understanding, develop better parameterizations and improve model validations, forecasts and projections. SEASTAR is a satellite mission concept that proposes to directly address this critical observational gap with synoptic two-dimensional imaging of total ocean surface current vectors and wind vectors at 1 km resolution and coincident directional wave spectra. Based on major recent advances in squinted along-track Synthetic Aperture Radar interferometry, SEASTAR is an innovative, mature concept with unique demonstrated capabilities, seeking to proceed towards spaceborne implementation within Europe and beyond.

Original languageEnglish
Article number457
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2019


  • Air-sea interactions
  • Along-track (AT) interferometry
  • Coastal
  • Marginal Ice Zone (MIZ)
  • Radar
  • Satellite
  • Submesocale
  • Upper ocean dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Ocean Engineering


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