Ocean feature detection using altimetry backscatter: the Gulf Stream

Topliss, B.J.; Stepanzcak, M.; Snaith, H.M.; Challenor, P.; Guymer, T.H.. 2001 Ocean feature detection using altimetry backscatter: the Gulf Stream. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 22 (5). 843-849.

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This study presents a basic analysis of ERS-1 altimeter data, from its 3-day repeat track periods taken over a section of the Gulf Stream. Along track variations of radar backscatter (σ0) have been compared with positions of the Gulf Stream derived from the composite maps of sea surface temperature from ship and satellite-sensor observations, produced by NOAA. Variations in σ0 , indicating potential interaction with the Gulf Stream, are found at both high and low wind speed conditions. At high wind speeds, comparison with model wind data indicates that peaks in altimeter-derived wind speeds along the path of the North Wall of the Gulf Stream may be related to real increases in wind speed. A possible reason may be a tendency for winter storm tracks to follow the same path as sections of the Gulf Stream. At low wind speeds, minima in altimeterderived winds are associated with sections of the path of the Gulf Stream but there were no comparable occurrences of low wind speeds in model wind fields, with implied consequences for winds derived from satellite sensor data. Although, for low wind speeds, the cause of these 'anomalously high' backscatter regions is unknown, such associated relatively 'calmer' waters have been previously noted as the result either of a tendency for surface slicks to be confined to the shears associated with local current systems or by wave-current interaction mechanisms causing a local reduction in the sea surface roughness.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0143-1161
Date made live: 10 Aug 2004 +0 (UTC)

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