Estimating wave orbital velocity through the azimuth cutoff from space-borne satellites

Type Publication
Date 2015-11
Language English
Copyright 2015. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.
Author(s) Stopa Justin1, Ardhuin FabriceORCID2, Chapron Bertrand3, Collard Fabrice4
Affiliation(s) 1 : UBO, IFREMER, Lab Oceanog Spatiale, Plouzane, France.
2 : CNRS, IFREMER, Lab Oceanog Spatiale, Plouzane, France.
3 : IFREMER, Lab Phys Oceans, Plouzane, France.
4 : Ocean Data Lab, Plouzane, France.
Source Journal Of Geophysical Research-oceans (0148-0027) (Amer Geophysical Union), 2015-11 , Vol. 120 , N. 11 , P. 7616-7634
DOI 10.1002/2015JC011275
WOS© Times Cited 10
Abstract It has been long accepted that ocean wave conditions recorded from synthetic aperture radar (SAR) aboard satellites resolve large scale swells. SARs make use of its displacement to achieve fine resolution; however the random surface motions can reduce its nominal azimuthal resolution. Accordingly, the SAR spectral azimuth response mirrors the probability distribution of the radial velocity component of the scatters. This effect, quantified in a measure called the azimuth cutoff, is estimated by defining a scale based on the fitting of a Gaussian function to the radar cross section azimuth spectrum. The independent measure provides additional sea state information related to the root mean square surface orbital wave velocity. We use data recorded from the European Space Agency's ENVISAT advanced SAR in the C-band spanning its lifetime 2003-2012. Our purpose is to first establish the validity of the azimuth cutoff using both colocated buoys and modeled wave data. Some systematic biases are corrected using other SAR derived parameters, improving the accuracy of the estimate. Despite our efforts, errors exist in the presence of swell, extreme wind waves, and related to the wave direction. Under the majority of the sea states the parameter is well behaved. As a final point, applications using the wave orbital velocities are described in terms of diagnosing a spectral wave model and the wave climate. As illustrated, the returned radar signal provides useful sea state information that resolves wind speeds, wave orbital velocities from the wind waves, and swells.
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