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Dependence of mean square slope on wave state and its application in altimeter wind speed retrieval

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Mean square slope (MSS) of sea surface is a parameter describing the sea surface roughness and plays a key role in understanding the sea surface dynamics. Although MSS is influenced by many factors such as wind speed and sea surface waves, it has been traditionally parameterized by wind speed only. In this study, the surface wave impact on MSS is investigated using a collocated data set of altimeter and buoy measurements. It is found that the MSS detected by Ku-band altimeter is closely related to the wind wave components and increases with the degree of wind wave development; however, it is almost independent of the swell. The wave effect on MSS is mainly ascribed to the contribution of longer waves rather than shorter waves. An analytical spectral MSS model is proposed, and it is shown that the MSS calculated from the model agrees well with the altimeter-measured MSS when the pseudo-wave age is adjusted to the wave age corresponding to wind waves. This model is applied to derive wind speeds from altimeter data including the normalized radar cross section and the significant wave height of sea surface waves. With the collocated data set, it is shown that this new algorithm performs better than previous empirical algorithms.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Physical Oceanography Laboratory,Ocean University of China, Qingdao,266003, China 2: Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences,North Carolina State University, Raleigh,NC,27695, USA

Publication date: January 10, 2013

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