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Sampling Errors in Wind Fields Constructed from Single and Tandem Scatterometer Datasets

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  • 1 College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon
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Abstract

Sampling patterns and sampling errors from various scatterometer datasets are examined. Four single and two tandem scatterometer mission scenarios are considered. The single scatterometer missions are ERS (with a single, narrow swath), NSCAT and ASCAT (dual swaths), and QuikSCAT (a single, broad swath obtained from the SeaWinds instrument). The two tandem scenarios are combinations of the broad-swath SeaWinds scatterometer with ASCAT and QuikSCAT. The dense, nearly uniform distribution of measurements within swaths, combined with the relatively sparse, nonuniform placement of the swaths themselves create complicated space–time sampling patterns. The temporal sampling of all of the missions is characterized by bursts of closely spaced samples separated by longer gaps and is highly variable in both latitude and longitude. Sampling errors are quantified by the expected squared bias of particular linear estimates of component winds. Modifications to a previous method that allow more efficient expected squared bias calculations are presented and applied. Sampling errors depend strongly on both the details of the temporal sampling of each mission and the assumed temporal scales of variability in the wind field but are relatively insensitive to different spatial scales of variability. With the exception of ERS, all of the scatterometer scenarios can be used to make low-resolution (3° and 12 days) wind component maps with errors at or below the 1 m s−1 level. Only datasets from the broad-swath and tandem mission scenarios can be used for higher-resolution maps with similar levels of error, emphasizing the importance of the improved spatial and temporal coverage of those missions. A brief discussion of measurement errors concludes that sampling error is generally the dominant term in the overall error budget for maps constructed from scatterometer datasets.

Corresponding author address: Michael G. Schlax, College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, 104 Ocean Admin Building, Corvallis, OR 97331-5503.Email: schlax@pepper.oce.orst.edu

Abstract

Sampling patterns and sampling errors from various scatterometer datasets are examined. Four single and two tandem scatterometer mission scenarios are considered. The single scatterometer missions are ERS (with a single, narrow swath), NSCAT and ASCAT (dual swaths), and QuikSCAT (a single, broad swath obtained from the SeaWinds instrument). The two tandem scenarios are combinations of the broad-swath SeaWinds scatterometer with ASCAT and QuikSCAT. The dense, nearly uniform distribution of measurements within swaths, combined with the relatively sparse, nonuniform placement of the swaths themselves create complicated space–time sampling patterns. The temporal sampling of all of the missions is characterized by bursts of closely spaced samples separated by longer gaps and is highly variable in both latitude and longitude. Sampling errors are quantified by the expected squared bias of particular linear estimates of component winds. Modifications to a previous method that allow more efficient expected squared bias calculations are presented and applied. Sampling errors depend strongly on both the details of the temporal sampling of each mission and the assumed temporal scales of variability in the wind field but are relatively insensitive to different spatial scales of variability. With the exception of ERS, all of the scatterometer scenarios can be used to make low-resolution (3° and 12 days) wind component maps with errors at or below the 1 m s−1 level. Only datasets from the broad-swath and tandem mission scenarios can be used for higher-resolution maps with similar levels of error, emphasizing the importance of the improved spatial and temporal coverage of those missions. A brief discussion of measurement errors concludes that sampling error is generally the dominant term in the overall error budget for maps constructed from scatterometer datasets.

Corresponding author address: Michael G. Schlax, College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, 104 Ocean Admin Building, Corvallis, OR 97331-5503.Email: schlax@pepper.oce.orst.edu

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