A Novel Approach to Marine Wind Speed Assessment Using Synthetic Aperture Radar

Todd D. Sikora Department of Earth Sciences, Millersville University, Millersville, Pennsylvania

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George S. Young Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania

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Nathaniel S. Winstead Applied Physics Laboratory, The Johns Hopkins University, Laurel, Maryland

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Abstract

This paper describes a product that allows one to assess the lower and upper bounds on synthetic aperture radar (SAR)-based marine wind speed. The SAR-based wind speed fields of the current research are generated using scatterometry techniques and, thus, depend on a priori knowledge of the wind direction field. The assessment product described here consists of a pair of wind speed images bounding the wind speed range consistent with the observed SAR data. The minimum wind speed field is generated by setting the wind direction field to be directly opposite to the radar look direction. The maximum wind speed field is generated by setting the wind direction field to be perpendicular to the radar look direction. Although the assessment product could be generated using any marine SAR scene, it is expected to be most useful in coastal regions where the large concentration of maritime operations requires accurate, high-resolution wind speed data and when uncertainty in the a priori knowledge of the wind direction precludes the generation of accurate SAR-based wind speed fields. The assessment product is demonstrated using a case in the northern Gulf of Alaska where synoptic-scale and mesoscale meteorological events coexist. The corresponding range of possible SAR-based wind speed is large enough to have operational significance to mariners and weather forecasters. It is recommended that the product become available to the public through an appropriate government outlet.

Corresponding author address: Todd D. Sikora, Dept. of Earth Sciences, Millersville University, Millersville, PA 17551.E-mail: Email: Todd.Sikora@millersville.edu

Abstract

This paper describes a product that allows one to assess the lower and upper bounds on synthetic aperture radar (SAR)-based marine wind speed. The SAR-based wind speed fields of the current research are generated using scatterometry techniques and, thus, depend on a priori knowledge of the wind direction field. The assessment product described here consists of a pair of wind speed images bounding the wind speed range consistent with the observed SAR data. The minimum wind speed field is generated by setting the wind direction field to be directly opposite to the radar look direction. The maximum wind speed field is generated by setting the wind direction field to be perpendicular to the radar look direction. Although the assessment product could be generated using any marine SAR scene, it is expected to be most useful in coastal regions where the large concentration of maritime operations requires accurate, high-resolution wind speed data and when uncertainty in the a priori knowledge of the wind direction precludes the generation of accurate SAR-based wind speed fields. The assessment product is demonstrated using a case in the northern Gulf of Alaska where synoptic-scale and mesoscale meteorological events coexist. The corresponding range of possible SAR-based wind speed is large enough to have operational significance to mariners and weather forecasters. It is recommended that the product become available to the public through an appropriate government outlet.

Corresponding author address: Todd D. Sikora, Dept. of Earth Sciences, Millersville University, Millersville, PA 17551.E-mail: Email: Todd.Sikora@millersville.edu

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