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Metocean Comparisons of Jason-2 and AltiKa—A Method to Develop a New Wind Speed Algorithm

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As well as range, the AltiKa altimeter provides estimates of wave height, Hs and normalized backscatter, σ0, that need to be assessed prior to statistics based on them being included in climate databases. An analysis of crossovers with the Jason-2 altimeter shows AltiKa Hs values to be biased high by only ˜0.05m, with a standard deviation (s.d.) of ˜0.1m for seven-point averages. AltiKa's σ0 values are 2.5–3 dB less than those from Jason-2, with a s.d. of ˜0.3 dB, with these relatively large mismatches to be expected as AltiKa measures a different part of the spectrum of sea surface roughness. A new wind speed algorithm is developed through matching a histogram of σ0 values to that for Jason-2 wind speeds. The algorithm is robust to the use of short durations of data, with a consistency at roughly the 0.1 m/s level. Incorporation of Hs as a secondary input reduces the assessed error at crossovers from 0.82 m/s to 0.71 m/s. A comparison across all altimeter frequencies used to date demonstrates that the lowest wind speeds preferentially develop the shortest scales of roughness.
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Keywords: AltiKa altimeter; Ka-band; histograms; sigma0; wave height; wind speed

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Devon, UK

Publication date: September 10, 2015

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