We present a study on the potential of the Copernicus Imaging Microwave Radiometer (CIMR) mission for the global monitoring of Sea-Surface Salinity (SSS) using Level-4 (gap-free) analysis processing. Space-based SSS are currently provided by the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) and Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellites. However, there are no planned missions to guarantee continuity in the remote SSS measurements for the near future. The CIMR mission is in a preparatory phase with an expected launch in 2026. CIMR is focused on the provision of global coverage, high resolution sea-surface temperature (SST), SSS and sea-ice concentration observations. In this paper, we evaluate the mission impact within the Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service (CMEMS) SSS processing chain. The CMEMS SSS operational products are based on a combination of in situ and satellite (SMOS) SSS and high-resolution SST information through a multivariate optimal interpolation. We demonstrate the potential of CIMR within the CMEMS SSS operational production after the SMOS era. For this purpose, we implemented an Observing System Simulation Experiment (OSSE) based on the CMEMS MERCATOR global operational model. The MERCATOR SSSs were used to generate synthetic in situ and CIMR SSS and, at the same time, they provided a reference gap-free SSS field. Using the optimal interpolation algorithm, we demonstrated that the combined use of in situ and CIMR observations improves the global SSS retrieval compared to a processing where only in situ observations are ingested. The improvements are observed in the 60% and 70% of the global ocean surface for the reconstruction of the SSS and of the SSS spatial gradients, respectively. Moreover, the study highlights the CIMR-based salinity patterns are more accurate both in the open ocean and in coastal areas. We conclude that CIMR can guarantee continuity for accurate monitoring of the ocean surface salinity from space.
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