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Toward Real-Time, Remote Observations of the Coastal Wind Resource Using High-Frequency Radar

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There is now a large installed base of high-frequency (HF) coastal ocean radars in the United States able to measure surface currents on an operational basis. However, these instruments also have the potential to provide estimates of the spatially variable surface wind field over distances ranging from 10 to 200 km offshore. This study investigates the ability of direction-finding HF radars to recover spatial maps of wind speed and direction from the dominant first-order region radar returns using empirical models. Observations of radar backscatter from the Martha’s Vineyard Coastal Observatory HF radar system were compared to wind observations from an offshore tower, finding significant correlations between wind speed and the backscatter power for a range of angles between the wind and radar loop directions. Models for the directional spreading of wind waves were analyzed in comparison to data-based results, finding potentially significant differences between the model and data-based spreading relationships. Using empirical fits, radar-based estimates of wind speed and direction at the location of the in situ wind sensor had error rates of 2 m/s and 60°, which decreased with hourly averaging. Attempts to extrapolate the results to the larger domain illustrated that spatially dependent transfer functions for wind speed and direction appear possible for large coastal ocean domains based on a small number of temporary, or potentially mobile, in situ wind sensors.
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Keywords: HF radar; calibration and validation; remote sensing; surface winds

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2013

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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