Skip to Main Content
This paper describes an algorithm to simultaneously retrieve ocean surface salinity and wind from combined passive/active L-band microwave observations of sea surfaces. The algorithm takes advantage of the differing response of brightness temperatures and radar backscatter to salinity, wind speed, and direction. The algorithm minimizes the least square error (LSE) measure, signifying the difference between measurements and model functions of brightness temperatures and radar backscatter. Three LSE measures with different measurement combinations are tested. One of the LSE measures uses passive microwave data only with retrieval errors reaching 2 psu for salinity and 2 m/s for wind speed. The second LSE measure uses both passive and active microwave data for vertical and horizontal polarizations. The addition of active microwave data significantly improves the retrieval accuracy by about a factor of five. To mitigate the impact of Faraday rotation on satellite observations, we propose the third LSE measure using measurement combinations invariant under the Faraday rotation. For Aquarius, the expected root-mean-square SSS error will be less than 0.2 psu for low winds and increases to 0.3 psu at 25-m/s wind speed for warm waters, and the accuracy of retrieved wind speed will be high (about 1-2 m/s or lower). Our results suggest that combining passive and active microwave observations will allow retrieval of sea surface salinity along with the wind speed and direction. In particular, the LSE measure invariant under the Faraday rotation will be directly applicable to spaceborne missions, such as the NASA Aquarius and Soil Moisture Active Passive missions.