Measurements of ocean surface stress using aircraft scatterometers

David E. Weissman, Fuk K. Li, Shu Hsiang Lou, Son V. Nghiem, Gregory Neumann, Robert E. McIntosh, Steven C. Carson, James R. Carswell, Hans C. Graber, Robert E. Jensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Scatterometer model functions that directly estimate friction velocity have been developed and are being tested with radar and in situ data acquired during the Surface Wave Dynamics Experiment (SWADE) of 1991. Ku-band and C-band scatterometers were operated simultaneously for extensive intervals for each of 10 days during SWADE. The model function developed previously from the FASINEX experiment converts the Ku-band normalized radar cross-section (NRCS) measurements into friction velocity estimates. These are compared to in situ estimates of surface wind stress and direction across a wide area both on and off the Gulf Stream (for hourly intervals), which were determined from buoy and meteorological measurements during February and March 1991. This involved the combination of a local, specially derived wind field, with an ocean wave model coupled through a sea-state-dependent drag coefficient. The Ku-band estimates u* magnitude are in excellent agreement with the in situ values. The C-band scatterometer measurements were coincident with the Ku-band NRCSs, whose u* estimates are then used to calibrate the C band. The results show the C-band NRCS dependence at 20°, 30°, 40°, and 50° to be less sensitive to friction velocity than the corresponding cases for Ku band. The goal is to develop the capability of making friction velocity estimates (and surface stress) from radar crosssectional data acquired by satellite scatterometers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)835-848
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ocean Engineering
  • Atmospheric Science


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