Ocean Physics at NASA
New NASA-IPCC Sea Level Tool
A new online visualization tool will enable anyone to see what sea levels will look like anywhere in the world in the decades to come.
OMG Leaves for Its Last Field Trip
By dropping probes from a plane into the ocean, the pioneering campaign tracks how seawater is melting glaciers to give insight into the future of sea level rise.
ECCO and the shift to Open Science leads to 100s of new discoveries
ECCO is improving its data integration and shifting towards Open Science, becoming NASA’s first climate estimate in the cloud.
Sentinel-6 MF Starts Providing Science Data
Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, the latest spacecraft to monitor sea surface height, releases its first science measurements to users.
NASA’s S-MODE Takes to the Air and Sea to Study Ocean Eddies
After being delayed over a year due to the pandemic, a NASA field campaign to study the role of small-scale whirlpools and ocean currents in climate change is taking flight and taking to the seas in May 2021.
New Arctic Salinity Mission: SASSIE
New field campaign, Salinity And Stratification at the Sea Ice Edge (SASSIE), will study how salinity effects formation and melt of Arctic sea ice.
Jump to: About | Science and Research | Missions | Data | Partnerships | Contacts
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
Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich/Jason-CS
Sub-Mesoscale Ocean Dynamics Experiment (S-MODE)
Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP)
Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG)
Compact Ocean Wind Vector Radiometer (COWVR)
Salinity And Stratification at the Sea Ice Edge (SASSIE)
Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT)
Past missions providing data for current research
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