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  • Author or Editor: Edward J. Walsh x
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Dudley B. Chelton
,
Edward J. Walsh
, and
John L. MacArthur

Abstract

With the presently operational altimeter on the U.S. Navy satellite GEOSAT, and three new altimeters soon to be launched by the European, French and U.S. space agencies, satellite altimetry promises to become a standard technique for studying oceanographic variability. Little has been written about the instrumental technique used to determine sea surface height from altimetric measurements. In this paper, we summarize the pulse-compression technique by which a radar altimeter transmits a relatively long pulse and processes the returned signal in a way that is equivalent to transmitting a very short pulse and measuring the time history of the returned power in a sequence of range gates. The effective short pulse enhances the range resolution that would be obtained from the actual long pulse. The method used onboard the satellite to track the point on the returned signal corresponding to the range to mean sea level (spatially averaged over the altimeter footprint) is also summarized. Pulse compression and sea level tracking are important to the overall error budget for altimetric estimates of sea level. The dominant sources of sea level tracking errors are discussed, with particular emphasis on the high degree of accuracy required for the TOPEX altimeter scheduled for launch in mid 1992. Also included here as an appendix is a derivation of the spherical earth correction to altimeter footprint area. It is shown that the flat earth approximation used heretofore in ground-based processing of altimeter data results in a bias of −0.51 dB in estimates of normalized radar cross section from an altitude of 800 km; if not corrected, this bias would increase to −0.83 dB for the TOPEX altitude of 1335 km.

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Nicholas Scott
,
Tetsu Hara
,
Edward J. Walsh
, and
Paul A. Hwang

Abstract

A new wavelet analysis methodology is proposed to estimate the statistics of steep waves. The method is applied to open ocean wave height data from the Southern Ocean Waves Experiment (1992) and from a field experiment conducted at Duck, North Carolina (1997). Results show that high wave slope crests appear over a wide range of wavenumbers, with a large amount being much shorter than the dominant wave. At low wave slope thresholds, all wave fields have roughly the same amount of wave crests regardless of wind forcing. The steep wave statistic decays exponentially with the square of the wave slope threshold, with a decay rate that is larger for the low wind cases than the high wind cases. Comparison of the steep wave statistic with independent measurements of the breaking wave statistic suggests a breaking wave slope threshold of about 0.12. The steep wave statistic does not scale with the cube of the wind speed, suggesting that other factors besides the wind speed also affect its level. Comparison of the steep wave statistic to the saturation spectrum reveals a reasonable correlation at moderate wave slope thresholds.

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Nicholas Scott
,
Tetsu Hara
,
Paul A. Hwang
, and
Edward J. Walsh

Abstract

A new wavelet analysis methodology is applied to open ocean wave height data from the Southern Ocean Waves Experiment (1992) and from a field experiment conducted at Duck, North Carolina, in 1997 with the aim of estimating the directionality and crest lengths of steep waves. The crest directionality statistic shows that most of the steep wave crests are normal to the direction of the mean wind. This is inconsistent with the Fourier wavenumber spectrum that shows a broad bimodal directional spreading at high wavenumbers. The crest length statistics demonstrate that the wave field is dominated by short-crested waves with small crest length/wavelength ratios. The one-dimensional steep wave statistic obtained from the integration of the directional (two dimensional) steep wave statistic is consistent with the one-dimensional steep wave statistic obtained from the one-dimensional analysis at high wave slope thresholds.

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Edward J. Walsh
,
Ivan PopStefanija
,
Sergey Y. Matrosov
,
Jian Zhang
,
Eric Uhlhorn
, and
Brad Klotz

Abstract

The NOAA Wide-Swath Radar Altimeter (WSRA) uses 80 narrow beams spread over ±30° in the cross-track direction to generate raster lines of sea surface topography at a 10-Hz rate from which sea surface directional wave spectra are produced. A ±14° subset of the backscattered power data associated with the topography measurements is used to produce independent measurements of rain rate and sea surface mean square slope at 10-s intervals. Theoretical calculations of rain attenuation at the WSRA 16.15-GHz operating frequency using measured drop size distributions for both mostly convective and mostly stratiform rainfall demonstrate that the WSRA absorption technique for rain determination is relatively insensitive to both ambient temperature and the characteristics of the drop size distribution, in contrast to reflectivity techniques. The variation of the sea surface radar reflectivity in the vicinity of a hurricane is reviewed. Fluctuations in the sea surface scattering characteristics caused by changes in wind speed or the rain impinging on the surface cannot contaminate the rain measurement because they are calibrated out using the WSRA measurement of mean square slope. WSRA rain measurements from a NOAA WP-3D hurricane research aircraft off the North Carolina coast in Hurricane Irene on 26 August 2011 are compared with those from the stepped frequency microwave radiometer (SFMR) on the aircraft and the Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) National Mosaic and Multi-Sensor Quantitative Precipitation Estimation (QPE) system.

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