Ocean surface current retrieval from space: The Sentinel-2 multispectral capabilities

Type Article
Date 2019-12
Language English
Author(s) Yurovskaya Maria1, 2, Kudryavtsev Vladimir1, 2, Chapron Bertrand2, 3, Collard Fabrice4
Affiliation(s) 1 : Marine Hydrophysical Institute of RAS, Sevastopol, Russia
2 : Satellite Oceanography Laboratory, Russian State Hydrometeorological University, Saint Petersburg, Russia
3 : Institut Français de Recherche pour l’Exploitation de la Mer, Plouzané, France
4 : OceanDataLab, Déolen, France
Source Remote Sensing Of Environment (0034-4257) (Elsevier BV), 2019-12 , Vol. 234 , P. 111468 (10p.)
DOI 10.1016/j.rse.2019.111468
WOS© Times Cited 3
Keyword(s) Ocean currents, Sea surface optical images, Wave dispersion relation, Time lag, Wave breaking, Sentinel-2, Satellite methods

The Sentinel-2 MultiSpectral Instrument (MSI) collects multiple spectral band images, corresponding to specific sensing wavelengths and spatial resolutions, i.e. 10 m, 20 m and 60 m, respectively. Images are collected one at the time with a given time-lag between observations. Under favorable conditions, spatio-temporal characteristics of propagating ocean surface waves can thus uniquely be retrieved. A method for surface current vector field reconstruction is then developed. Demonstrated over different deep ocean regions, the retrieved surface current fields well compare with medium-resolution ocean circulation model or derived-velocities from altimeter measurements. At finer scales, the surface wave-conservation law is recovered, with the associated relationship between current vorticity and wave-ray curvature. Over shallow water regions, the wave propagation properties well follow sea depth variations, consistent with ETOPO1 data. Finally, time-lag between detector bands can also be exploited to estimate speed and direction properties of detected surface wave breaking whitecaps. An analysis of velocity reconstruction errors further reveals that Sentinel-2 MSI inter-channel co-registration is realized with an accuracy better than 0.1 pixel. Overall, these results confirm very promising capabilities of optical imagery to provide direct surface current velocity measurements from space, over relatively large areas, O(100 km), with a spatial resolution down to O(1 km).

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