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Geophysical Model Function for Wind Speed Retrieval from SARAL/AltiKa

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With the launch of SARAL/AltiKa altimeter, efforts have been made to develop wind speed retrieval algorithms. Here we present two algorithms for estimating and validating wind speed from AltiKa. The first method is based on a theoretical Geophysical Model Function (GMF) using forward model simulations for Ka band specifications. The second is the model function developed using the matched database of input and output vectors of Normalized Radar Cross Section (NRCS) from AltiKa and wind speed measurements from concurrent Jason-2 altimeters. Since the NRCS depends on both the surface roughness due to surface wind speed and on mean square slope of the surfaces, the significant wave height is used along with wind speed for model development as an proxy variable. Both the theoretical and empirical GMFs are evaluated for retrieval of wind speed from AltiKa and validated with NDBC buoys data. The empirical model provide wind speed retrieval accuracy of 1.4 m/s. The accuracy of wind retrievals from theoretical model is also in the similar range (1.6 m/s), indicating the sound physical basis applicable for the future altimeters with various incidence angles. The retrieved wind speed is applied for various case studies, bringing out all the regional and global features quite well.
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Keywords: Geophysical model function; radar altimeter; wave height; wind speed

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Space Application Centre, Ahmedabad, India

Publication date: September 10, 2015

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