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Sampling the mesoscale ocean surface currents with various satellite altimeter configurations

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3 Author(s)
W. J. Emery ; Aerosp. Eng. Sci. Dept., Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA ; D. G. Baldwin ; D. K. Matthews

Ten-day composites of maximum cross-correlation (MCC) ocean surface current vectors from 1-km spatial resolution Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) 11-μm thermal infrared images are used to simulate the ocean surface current retrieval capabilities of three satellite altimeter configurations over a large California coastal region. Ground track positions of the nadir sampling TOPEX/Poseidon (TP; now the Jason-1) satellite altimeters are used to compute the cross-track velocity components from the corresponding optimally interpolated MCC vectors for a ten-day period. Next, the Jason-1-only and the TP plus Jason-1 "tandem mission" sampling are simulated as well as the combination of all available satellite altimeters including European Remote Sensing Satellite 2 and Geosat Follow-On. Finally, we simulate surface current retrievals from the proposed Wide Swath Ocean Altimeter (WSOA), which will have both along- and cross-track velocity components over a spatial swath. Comparisons of vector current fields, their differences, and wavenumber spectra from optimally interpolated maps of the "simulated altimetry velocities" with the corresponding MCC field indicates that (1) the combined coverage from Jason-1 plus TP as well as the combination of all available satellite altimeters results in a better representation of the currents than that of Jason-1 alone and (2) the retrieved currents from the WSOA provide an even greater improvement over the tandem mapping and multiple satellites. It will be possible in the future to regularly map the mesoscale surface currents of the ocean with wide-swath ocean altimeters.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing  (Volume:42 ,  Issue: 4 )