Measuring ocean total surface current velocity with the KuROS and KaRADOC airborne near-nadir Doppler radars: a multi-scale analysis in preparation for the SKIM mission

Marié, Louis; Collard, Fabrice; Nouguier, Frédéric; Pineau-Guillou, Lucia; Hauser, Danièle; Boy, François; Méric, Stéphane; Sutherland, Peter; Peureux, Charles; Monnier, Goulven; Chapron, Bertrand; Martin, Adrien; Dubois, Pierre; Donlon, Craig; Casal, Tania; Ardhuin, Fabrice. 2020 Measuring ocean total surface current velocity with the KuROS and KaRADOC airborne near-nadir Doppler radars: a multi-scale analysis in preparation for the SKIM mission. Ocean Science, 16 (6). 1399-1429.

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Surface currents are poorly known over most of the world's oceans. Satellite-borne Doppler wave and current scatterometers (DWaCSs) are among the proposed techniques to fill this observation gap. The Sea surface KInematics Multiscale (SKIM) proposal is the first satellite concept built on a DWaCS design at near-nadir angles and was demonstrated to be technically feasible as part of the European Space Agency Earth Explorer program. This article describes preliminary results from a field experiment performed in November 2018 off the French Atlantic coast, with sea states representative of the open ocean and a well-known tide-dominated current regime, as part of the detailed design and feasibility studies for SKIM. This experiment comprised airborne measurements performed using Ku-band and Ka-band Doppler radars looking at the sea surface at near-nadir incidence in a real-aperture mode, i.e., in a geometry and mode similar to that of SKIM, as well as an extensive set of in situ instruments. The Ku-band Radar for Observation of Surfaces (KuROS) airborne radar provided simultaneous measurements of the radar backscatter and Doppler velocity in a side-looking configuration, with a horizontal resolution of about 5 to 10 m along the line of sight and integrated in the perpendicular direction over the real-aperture 3 dB footprint diameter (about 580 m). The Ka-band RADar for Ocean Current (KaRADOC) system, also operating in the side-looking configuration, had a much narrower beam, with a circular footprint only 45 m in diameter. Results are reported for two days with contrasting conditions, a strong breeze on 22 November 2018 (wind speed 11.5 m s−1, Hs 2.6 m) and gentle breeze on 24 November 2018 (wind speed 5.5 m s−1, Hs 1.7 m). The measured line-of-sight velocity signal is analyzed to separate a non-geophysical contribution linked to the aircraft velocity, a geophysical contribution due to the intrinsic motion of surface waves and the desired surface current contribution. The surface wave contribution is found to be well predicted by Kirchhoff scattering theory using as input parameters in situ measurements of the directional spectrum of long waves, complemented by the short wave spectrum of Elfouhaily et al. (1997). It is found to be closely aligned with the wind direction, with small corrections due to the presence of swell. Its norm is found to be weakly variable with wind speed and sea state, quite stable and close to C0=2.0ms−1 at the Ka band, and more variable and close to C0=2.4ms−1 at the Ku band. These values are 10 %–20 % smaller than previous theoretical estimates. The directional spread of the short gravity waves is found to have a marked influence on this surface wave contribution. Overall, the results of this study support the feasibility of near-nadir radar Doppler remote sensing of the ocean total surface current velocity (TSCV).

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 1812-0792
Date made live: 25 Nov 2020 17:51 +0 (UTC)

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