The Effects of Marine Winds from Scatterometer Data on Weather Analysis and Forecasting

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Satellite scatterometer observations of the ocean surface wind speed and direction improve the depiction of storms at sea. Over the ocean, scatterometer surface winds are deduced from multiple measurements of reflected radar power made from several directions. In the nominal situation, the scattering mechanism is Bragg scattering from centimeter-scale waves, which are in equilibrium with the local wind. These data are especially valuable where observations are otherwise sparse—mostly in the Southern Hemisphere extratropics and Tropics, but also on occasion in the North Atlantic and North Pacific. The history of scatterometer winds research and its application to weather analysis and forecasting is reviewed here. Two types of data impact studies have been conducted to evaluate the effect of satellite data, including satellite scatterometer data, for NWP. These are simulation experiments (or observing system simulation experiments or OSSEs) designed primarily to assess the potential impact of planned satellite observing systems, and real data impact experiments (or observing system experiments or OSEs) to evaluate the actual impact of available space-based data. Both types of experiments have been applied to the series of satellite scatterometers carried on the Seasat, European Remote Sensing-1 and -2, and the Advanced Earth Observing System-1 satellites, and the NASA Quick Scatterometer. Several trends are evident: The amount of scatterometer data has been increasing. The ability of data assimilation systems and marine forecasters to use the data has improved substantially. The ability of simulation experiments to predict the utility of new sensors has also improved significantly.

*Data Assimilation Office, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland.

+Atmospheric and Environmental Research Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts.

#National Centers for Environmental Prediction, Washington, D.C.

@General Sciences Corp, Laurel, Maryland.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Robert M. Atlas, Mail code 910.3, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771. E-mail: atlas@dao.gsfc.nasa.gov

Satellite scatterometer observations of the ocean surface wind speed and direction improve the depiction of storms at sea. Over the ocean, scatterometer surface winds are deduced from multiple measurements of reflected radar power made from several directions. In the nominal situation, the scattering mechanism is Bragg scattering from centimeter-scale waves, which are in equilibrium with the local wind. These data are especially valuable where observations are otherwise sparse—mostly in the Southern Hemisphere extratropics and Tropics, but also on occasion in the North Atlantic and North Pacific. The history of scatterometer winds research and its application to weather analysis and forecasting is reviewed here. Two types of data impact studies have been conducted to evaluate the effect of satellite data, including satellite scatterometer data, for NWP. These are simulation experiments (or observing system simulation experiments or OSSEs) designed primarily to assess the potential impact of planned satellite observing systems, and real data impact experiments (or observing system experiments or OSEs) to evaluate the actual impact of available space-based data. Both types of experiments have been applied to the series of satellite scatterometers carried on the Seasat, European Remote Sensing-1 and -2, and the Advanced Earth Observing System-1 satellites, and the NASA Quick Scatterometer. Several trends are evident: The amount of scatterometer data has been increasing. The ability of data assimilation systems and marine forecasters to use the data has improved substantially. The ability of simulation experiments to predict the utility of new sensors has also improved significantly.

*Data Assimilation Office, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland.

+Atmospheric and Environmental Research Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts.

#National Centers for Environmental Prediction, Washington, D.C.

@General Sciences Corp, Laurel, Maryland.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Robert M. Atlas, Mail code 910.3, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771. E-mail: atlas@dao.gsfc.nasa.gov
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