On shipboard marine X-band radar near-surface current "Calibration"

Björn Lund, Hans C. Graber, Katrin Hessner, Neil J. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The ocean wave signatures within conventional noncoherent marine X-band radar (MR) image sequences can be used to derive near-surface current information. On ships, an accurate near-real-time record of the near-surface current could improve navigational safety. It could also advance understanding of air-sea interaction processes. The standard shipboard MR near-surface current estimates were found to have large errors (of the same order of magnitude as the signal) that are associated with ship speed and heading. For acoustic Doppler current profilers (ADCPs), ship heading errors are known to induce a spurious cross-track current that is proportional to the ship speed and the sine of the error angle. Conventional mechanical gyrocompasses are very reliable heading sensors, but they are too inaccurate for shipboard ADCPs. Within the ADCP community, it is common practice to correct the gyrocompass measurements with the help of multiantenna carrier-phase differential GPS systems. This study shows how a similar multiantenna GPS-based ship heading correction technique stands to improve the accuracy of MR near-surface current estimates. Changes to the standard MR near-surface current retrieval method that are necessary for high-quality results from ships are also introduced. MR and ADCP data collected from R/V Roger Revelle during the Impact of Typhoons on the Ocean in the Pacific (ITOP) program in 2010 are used to demonstrate the MR currents' accuracy and reliability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1928-1944
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ocean Engineering
  • Atmospheric Science


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