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Todd D. Sikora
,
Karen S. Friedman
,
William G. Pichel
, and
Pablo Clemente-Colón

Abstract

Polar mesoscale cyclones are intense vortices that form in cold, marine air masses poleward of major jet streams and frontal zones. Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) should be considered as a potential tool for the study of polar mesoscale cyclones because of its ability to remotely sense, at least qualitatively, the high-resolution near-surface wind field independent of daylight and atmospheric conditions. Four case studies demonstrating this ability are presented. SAR imagery from the Canadian Space Agency’s RADARSAT are compared to corresponding infrared imagery, surface analyses, and upper-air analyses. In three of the four case studies, it is argued that the addition of SAR imagery to the process of generating a manual surface analysis would have led to a better product. Moreover, it is demonstrated that the SAR imagery reveals a host of marine-meteorological phenomena in the vicinity of the polar mesoscale cyclones including atmospheric gravity waves, roll vortices, and cellular convection. Because of the high-resolution attributes of SAR imagery, SAR shows promise to aid the forecaster and researcher in the study of marine-meteorological phenomena such as polar mesoscale cyclones.

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