Sea state and rain: a second take on dual-frequency altimetry

Quartly, G.D.. 2004 Sea state and rain: a second take on dual-frequency altimetry. Marine Geodesy, 27 (1-2). 133-152.

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TOPEX and Jason were the first two dual-frequency altimeters in space, with both operating at Ku- and C-band. Each thus gives two measurements of the normalized backscatter, sigma0, (from which wind speed is calculated) and two estimates of wave height. Departures from a well-defined relationship between the Ku- and C-band sigma0 values give an indication of rain. This paper investigates differences between the two instruments using data from Jason's verification phase. Jason's Ku-band estimates of wave height are ~1.8% less than TOPEX's, whereas its sigma0 values are higher. When these effects have been removed the root mean square (r.m.s.) mismatch between TOPEX and Jason's Ku-band observations is close to that for TOPEX's observations at its two frequencies, and the changes in sigma0 with varying wave height conditions are the same for the two altimeters. Rain flagging and quantitative estimates of rain rate are both based on the atmospheric attenuation derived from the sigma0 measurements at the two frequencies. The attenuation estimates of TOPEX and Jason agree very well, and a threshold of -0.5 dB is effective at removing the majority of spurious data records from the Jason GDRs. In the high sigma0 regime, anomalous data can be cause by processes other than rain. Consequently, for these low wind conditions, neither can reliable rain detection be based on altimetry alone, nor can a generic rain flag be expected to remove all suspect data.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0149-0419
Additional Keywords: dual-frequency altimetry, TOPEX, Jason, wave height, sigma 0, wind speed, rainflagging rain rate
Date made live: 10 May 2005 +0 (UTC)

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