This method of measuring surface wind speeds was developed by scientists at the French Research Institute for Exploration of the Sea and Collect Localisation Satellites, CLS, within ESA's Earth Observation Support to Science Element programme.
The method was originally used during Hurricane Igor in 2010, but has again proven accurate. During Hurricane Sandy, SMOS data compare well with realtime measurements from meteorological buoys as the super storm passed between the coast of the US and the Bermuda Islands.
Moreover, NOAA's Hurricane Research Division flew a P-3 aircraft seven times into Hurricane Sandy to gather measurements of surface wind speeds, rain and other meteorological parameters. One of these airborne campaigns coincided with an overpass of the satellite.
Keeping in mind the significantly differing sampling characteristics between the SMOS radiometer and the aircraft sensor, there was excellent agreement in the measurements. Both instruments consistently detected a wind band 150 km south of the hurricane eye, with a speed of just over 100 km/h.
Being able to measure ocean surface wind in stormy conditions with the synoptic and frequent coverage of SMOS is paramount for tracking and forecasting hurricane strength.
Although ESA's Earth Explorers are developed to address specific scientific issues, they continue to demonstrate their versatility.
|Contact: Robert Meisner|
European Space Agency