Assimilation of GNSS reflectometry delay-Doppler maps with a two-dimensional variational analysis of global ocean surface winds

Feixiong Huang, James L. Garrison, S. Mark Leidner, Giuseppe Grieco, Ad Stoffelen, Bachir Annane, Ross N. Hoffman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Direct remote-sensing observations (e.g., radar backscatter, radiometer brightness temperature, or radio occultation bending angle) are often more effective for use in data assimilation (DA) than the corresponding geophysical retrievals (e.g., ocean surface winds, soil moisture, or atmospheric water vapor). In the particular case of Global Navigation Satellite System Reflectometry (GNSS-R), the lower-level delay-Doppler map (DDM) observable shows a complicated relationship with the ocean surface wind field. Prior studies have demonstrated DA using GNSS-R wind retrievals inferred from DDMs. The complexity of the DDM dependence on winds, however, suggests that the alternative approach of ingesting DDM observables directly into DA systems, without performing a wind retrieval, may be beneficial. We demonstrate assimilation of DDM observables from the NASA Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) mission into global ocean surface wind analyses using a two-dimensional variational analysis method. Bias correction and quality-control methods are described. Several models for the required observation-error covariance matrix are developed and evaluated, with the conclusion that a diagonal matrix performs as well as a fully populated matrix empirically tuned to a large ensemble of CYGNSS observation data. The 10-m surface winds from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) operational forecast are used as the background (i.e., prior in the variational analysis). Results are compared with independent scatterometer (the advanced scatterometer (ASCAT), the oceansat-2 Scatterometer (OSCAT)) winds. For one month (June 2017) of data, the root-mean-square difference (RMSD) was reduced from 1.17 to 1.07 m·s−1 and bias from −0.14 to −0.08 m·s−1 for the wind speed at the specular point. Within a 150-km wide swath along the specular point track, the RMSD was reduced from 1.20 to 1.13 m·s−1. These RMSD and bias statistics are smaller than other CYGNSS wind products available at this time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2469-2489
Number of pages21
JournalQuarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society
Issue number737
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021


  • data assimilation
  • GNSS-R
  • winds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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