Ocean Physics at NASA
SWOT Satellite Monitors Warming Ocean off California Coast
SWOT can observe warming, such as from El Niño, closer to the coast than any previous satellite mission
July 2023 Hottest Month Since Record Started
July 2023 was hotter than any other month in the global temperature record.
Making Waves in Open Science: NASA Initiatives Enable Ocean Research
NASA open science is working towards making ocean research and data more accessible, ECCO is an excellent example of this.
“NASA-UN Partnership Gauges Sea Level Threat to Tuvalu”
NASA & UN are partnering to prepare low-lying islands for climate change
Crews Head to the Field to Prep for SWOT
Ocean and freshwater measurements are being made to ensure SWOT’s accuracy
Sentinel-6MF Spots Early Signs of El Niño
Kelvin waves are rolling across the equatorial Pacific toward the coast of South America, a potential precursor of El Niño conditions.
The ocean plays a fundamental role in the Earth’s system. It shapes our planet’s climate and weather by absorbing, storing, and transporting large quantities of heat, water, moisture, and carbon dioxide. NASA’s Physical Oceanography (PO) program enables research that advances our understanding of the ocean’s role in climate. Our scientists utilize NASA satellite and sub-orbital data, climate models and data science to study ocean dynamics, sea level rise, hydrological cycle, and ocean interactions within the Earth system.
To join us and become a NASA scientist, apply to one of current NASA research opportunities.
Science and Research
NASA’s Physical Oceanography program directs multiple competitively-selected NASA’s Science Teams that study the physics of the oceans. Below are details about each science team.
Sea Level Change (N-SLCT)
Ocean Surface Topography (OSTST)
Ocean Surface Salinity (OSST)
Ocean Vector Winds (OVWST)
Sea Surface Temperature (SST)
PO program provides scientific leadership on the following missions:
Currently taking measurements
Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT)
Compact Ocean Wind Vector Radiometer (COWVR)
Salinity And Stratification at the Sea Ice Edge (SASSIE)
Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich/Jason-CS
Sub-Mesoscale Ocean Dynamics Experiment (S-MODE)
Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP)
Copernicus Polar Ice and Snow Topography Altimeter (CRISTAL)
Past missions providing data for current research
Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG)
2012-2013 & 2016-2017
Access the Data
The Physical Oceanography Distributed Active Archive Center (PO.DAAC) preserves NASA's ocean and climate open data and makes these universally accessible and meaningful.
PO program actively engages in the following national and international partnerships that work together to sustain and enhance the Earth observing system.
US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP)
NASA-ESA Earth Science Joint Program Planning Group