RSS-Insitu WG

The Working Group report addresses how ocean-observing systems of the future could use satellite measurements to complement in situ measurements to better observe the coastal environment.  The goal of combining these different types of measurements is to make the whole greater than the sum of the parts.  An example illustrates an observing system concept that combines in situ and satellite observing technologies with numerical models to quantify sub-seasonal time scale transport of freshwater and its constituents from terrestrial water storage bodies across and along continental shelves, as well as its impacts on some key biological/biogeochemical properties of coastal waters.

The report provides descriptions of both the next generation of satellite observing capabilities and in situ sensors. Using models of the coastal environment, the impacts of the observations are discussed. This report, J. Yoder, C. Davis, H. Dierssen, F Muller-Karger; Amala Mahadevan, Jay Pearlman; H. Sosik,  “A Modern Coastal Ocean Observing System Using Data from Advanced Satellite and In Situ Sensors – An Example”, June 1 2015 is available from WHOI at

The recommendations of the report cover four areas:

  • Satellite Observations/Missions
  • In situ Observations
    Data, Analyses and Modeling

While the recommendations have been grouped into the above four areas, the report recognizes that there are needs of the end to end processes that reach across the areas, where, for example, satellite products need to be merged effectively and efficiently with in situ measurements from ocean observing systems across the globe, and then distributed as consistent and coherent data sets for modeling and analyses. A future observing system based on a combination of satellite observations, model predictions, and Lagrangian sensors will be an effective strategy to address ocean science requirements and provide observations of many linked processes across a wide range of space and time scales. In achieving this, satellite products need to be assessed in terms of their accuracy in complex coastal waters with in situ measurements from US and other ocean observing systems, incorporated into oceanographic and climate models and then distributed as a consistent and coherent package of observations to stakeholders.

Ultimately, good, high-resolution base maps of the ocean environments are needed to provide a foundation for analyses of state, dynamics of the environment and trends in both the short and long term. These include habitats, the chemical and physical environments and other key characteristics overlaid on bathymetric maps for all the data collected from the field devices mentioned in this report. While this is a challenge, such innovation can provide tremendous leverage in understanding the ocean and the ocean-land interactions.

Working Group Members