interested federal agencies, from U.S. academic institutions and the private sector could provide the necessary long-range planning to meet the needs of U.S. users, provide external advice to the individual missions, interact with foreign partners, and develop consensus views on data needs and sensor requirements.
The diverse applications of, and future enhancements to, ocean color observations will require a mix of ocean color satellites in polar and geostationary orbit with advanced capabilities. Although the three missions described in NASA’s Decadal Survey (Aerosol-Cloud-Ecosystem/PreAerosol-Cloud-Ecosystem, Geostationary Coastal and Air Pollution Events [GEOCAPE], and Hyperspectral Infrared Imager [HyspIRI]) will potentially provide many advanced capabilities, meeting all user needs within the next decade will likely surpass the capability of a single space agency or nation.
Conclusion: U.S. scientists and operational users of satellite ocean color data will need to rely on multiple sources, including sensors operated by non-U.S. space agencies, because the United States does not have approved missions to sustain optimal ocean color radiance data for all applications.
Recommendation: NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service and NASA’s Science Mission Directorate should increase efforts to quickly establish lasting, long-term data exchange policies, because U.S. users are increasingly dependent on ocean color data from non-U.S. sensors.
The IOCCG presents an effective body through which NASA and NOAA can engage with foreign space agencies and develop a long-term vision for meeting the research and operational needs for ocean color products. Through the IOCCG, space agencies can identify options for collaborations and approaches mutually beneficial to all interested parties. The group has been active in communicating user needs and is working with the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) to develop plans for the Ocean Colour Radiometry Virtual Constellation9 (OCR-VC). In the long term, international partnerships will be needed to sustain the climate-quality global ocean color time-series, and at the same time, to advance ocean color capabilities and research.
9 A virtual constellation is a set of space and ground segment capabilities operating together in a coordinated manner; in effect, a virtual system that overlaps in coverage in order to meet a combined and common set of Earth Observation requirements. The individual satellites and ground segments can belong to a single or multiple owners.