Altimeter Estimation of Sea Surface Wind Stress for Light to Moderate Winds

Douglas Vandemark NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Wallops Island, Virginia

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James B. Edson Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts

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Bertrand Chapron Institut Français de Recherche pour l’Exploitation de la Mer, Plouzane, France

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Abstract

Aircraft altimeter and in situ measurements are used to examine relationships between altimeter backscatter and the magnitude of near-surface wind and friction velocities. Comparison of altimeter radar cross section with wind speed is made through the modified Chelton–Wentz algorithm. Improved agreement is found after correcting 10-m winds for both surface current and atmospheric stability. An altimeter friction velocity algorithm is derived based on the wind speed model and an open-ocean drag coefficient. Close agreement between altimeter- and in situ–derived friction velocities is found. For this dataset, quality of the altimeter inversion to surface friction velocity is comparable to that for adjusted winds and clearly better than the inversion to true 10-m wind speed.

Corresponding author address: Douglas Vandemark, NASA/GSFC, Bldg. N-159, Wallops Island, VA 23337.

Email: vandemark@gsfc.nasa.gov

Abstract

Aircraft altimeter and in situ measurements are used to examine relationships between altimeter backscatter and the magnitude of near-surface wind and friction velocities. Comparison of altimeter radar cross section with wind speed is made through the modified Chelton–Wentz algorithm. Improved agreement is found after correcting 10-m winds for both surface current and atmospheric stability. An altimeter friction velocity algorithm is derived based on the wind speed model and an open-ocean drag coefficient. Close agreement between altimeter- and in situ–derived friction velocities is found. For this dataset, quality of the altimeter inversion to surface friction velocity is comparable to that for adjusted winds and clearly better than the inversion to true 10-m wind speed.

Corresponding author address: Douglas Vandemark, NASA/GSFC, Bldg. N-159, Wallops Island, VA 23337.

Email: vandemark@gsfc.nasa.gov

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