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New radar satellite technique sheds light on ocean current dynamics
Date:1/24/2008

s of the sea surface from which the SAR signal scatters back to orbit. The initial two values are well known particularly for Envisat, with its very stable satellite orbit and attitude and can be simply subtracted to extract the useful sea surface velocity information.

Chapron first demonstrated the concept in 2005 with initial tests carried out over the Gulf Stream. Although the results were promising, repeat acquisitions and careful validation were not possible. However, based on these conclusions ESA upgraded its ASAR ground segment in July 2007 to systematically process and disseminate a Doppler grid product, a regularly spaced collection of individual Doppler information, for all Wide Swath acquired images.

The Doppler grid, embedded in ESA standard products, is now regularly tested on a number of so-called super-sites, including regions of the Gulf Stream and the greater Agulhas Current, both among the strongest western boundary currents of the worlds oceans.

"These measurements are very useful for advancing the understanding of surface current dynamics and mesoscale variability, as well as for determining surface drift, important for oil dispersion and pollution transport and for wave-current interaction, probably influencing the existence of extreme waves," Johannessen said.

"The method at this very high resolution could also complement the use of additional information sources to improve 3-D ocean models. Its use for sensor synergy with radiometry, spectrometry and altimetry is very promising," Chapron added.

The ground segment upgrade is also allowing the scientists to examine the anticipated Doppler shift signal of the river outflow at the mouth of the Amazon delta to monitor river runoff and improve our understanding of hydrological processes.

Chapron and Collard also presented their Near Real Time global swell wave observations to the workshop, attended by 150 participants from 25 countries.
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Contact: Mariangela D'Acunto
mariangela.dacunto@esa.int
39-069-418-0856
European Space Agency
Source:Eurekalert

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