Using ocean color to illuminate the biogeochemistry of the ocean

NASA's S-MODE Mission: "Sea-ing" through Rainbow...

If you asked a random person about the color of the ocean, they would probably tell you that it’s some shade of blue or green. But perhaps that shad...

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Scientists Prepare to Set Sail

A Month at Sea: Scientists Prepare to Set Sail for NASA's S...

In early October, the research vessel Bold Horizon set sail from Newport, Oregon, and joined a small fleet of planes, drones, and other high-tech craf...

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Audrey and Dipanjan prep a Lagrangian float for deployment

Following the Ocean Fronts

Being part of the NASA S-MODE oceanographic mission was a great experience for me. It was only my second oceanographic mission and my first one on a U...

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Kelly Luis reading Sweat and Salt Water in the lab

Life at Sea: Books of the Bold Horizon

ʻAʻohe o kahi nana o luna o ka pali; iho mai a lalo nei; ʻike ke au nui ke au iki, hea lo a he alo. The top of the cliff isn’t the place to look...

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Daily photos of the sea-state from October 9th to the 29th from the Bold Horizon

Surface Waves from the Bold Horizon's Deck During NASA...

Upon leaving the Breton coastlines after my Ph.D., I started a postdoc at the Colorado School of Mines. After one month in the Colorado mountains, I t...

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A photo of Joseph. Credit: Courtesy of Joseph D’Addezio

Cloudy with a Chance for Whirlpools: Ocean Models Guide NASA’s S...

NASA’s S-MODE mission faces quite the challenge: robustly observe, for the first time, ocean features spanning up to about 6.2 miles (10 kilometers)...

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Dolphins surfacing at a submesoscale front on a calm, foggy day – photo taken off of the stern of the Bold Horizon. Credit: Gwen Marechal

Where No Map Leads: Reflections from NASA’s S-MODE Mission

It’s like stumbling through a thick forest and breaking out into a glade. A quiet has settled on this piece of sea as the waves calm. You can’t ma...

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Visit the WHOI S-MODE Site for curated satellite, radar, and model data products, as well as real time position information for all in situ platforms.

Sub-Mesoscale Ocean Dynamics Experiment (S-MODE)

Mission Overview

A major difficulty in simulating Earth’s climate system is that there are interactions across scales, so that the large time and space scales can be sensitive to processes on small scales. As the computational resolution of global ocean models has improved, scientists have begun to suspect that kilometer-scale eddies and fronts, called “submesoscale” variability, have a net effect on ocean-atmosphere heat exchange that is larger than the heating from the greenhouse effect (Su et al. 2018). State-of-the-art computer models agree in predicting that these eddies have important long-term effects on the upper-ocean, but their predictions are sensitive to relatively small details in model physics and implementation. The resolution and detail of these simulations has surpassed our ability to ‘ground truth’ them with spaceborne or in situ sensors. There is thus a pressing need for a comprehensive benchmark data set on these submesoscale motions to address this important source of uncertainty in simulating the global ocean.

S-MODE will test the hypothesis that submesoscale ocean dynamics make important contributions to vertical exchange of climate and biological variables in the upper ocean. This will require coordinated application of newly-developed in situ and remote sensing techniques, and it will provide an unprecedented view of the physics of submesoscale eddies and fronts and their effects on vertical transport in the upper ocean.

Principal Investigator: J. Tom Farrar (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Science Investigation Manager: Paul Matthias (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Deputy PI for Science Data Analysis: Eric D'Asaro (University of Washington)
Deputy PI for In Situ Measurements: Andrey Shcherbina (University of Washington)
Deputy PI for Aircraft Measurements: Ernesto Rodriguez (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
EVS-3 Program Executive: Bruce Tagg (NASA Headquarters)
Program Scientist - Physical Oceanography Program: Nadya Vinogradova-Shiffer (NASA Headquarters)
EVS-3 Program Manager: Gregory Stover (NASA Langley Research Center)
EVS-3 Mission Manager: Melissa Yang Martin (NASA Langley Research Center)
S-MODE Project Manager: Erin Czech (NASA Ames Research Center)
S-MODE Deputy Project Manager: Sommer Nicholas (NASA Ames Research Center)