This release from SpaceRef.com describes the importance of satellites in piecing together more data on climate change. Moreso than photographs, climatologists rely on a radar instrument to cut through clouded atmosphere and the long, dark polar winters. I was not aware of these large-scale waves operating in the Earth’s hydrosphere:
Satellites have been extremely beneficial to scientists in understanding oceanic planetary waves, which are internal waves that have major effects on large-scale ocean circulation and thus on climate. These very long waves travel slowly across the oceanic basins influencing the major oceanic currents and are believed to play a role in the complex ‘planetary clock’ that triggers one of the major climatic anomalies – El Niño.