seafloor topography

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Scanning The Ocean’s Surface To See What Sits Below

Scientists have used satellites to peer through the oceans’ depths and see the shape of the Earth’s seafloor in unprecedented detail. 

Their work, using instruments aboard the CryoSat-2 and Jason-1 spacecraft, has revealed thousands of previously unknown submarine mountains across the globe. They revealed their findings in a report published today in the journal Science.

The insight into the undersea world, which remains 80 percent unmapped, came through the use of the satellites’ altimeters. These sensors transmit microwave energy pulses to the sea surface and analyze how long it takes for the signal to return. With this, scientists can understand the bulges and troughs in the ocean’s surface that relate directly to the seafloor topography beneath.

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