Estimation of surface latent heat flux over the ocean and its relationship to Marine Atmospheric Boundary Layer (MABL) structure

Stephen P. Palm, Geary K. Schwemmer, Doug Vandemark, Keith Evans, David Owen Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


A new technique combining active and passive remote sensing instruments for the estimation of surface latent heat flux over the ocean is presented. This synergistic method utilizes aerosol lidar backscatter data, multi-channel infrared radiometer data and microwave scatterometer data acquired onboard the NASA P-3B research aircraft during an extended field campaign over the Atlantic ocean in support of the Lidar In-space Technology Experiment (LITE) in September of 1994. The 10 meter wind speed derived from the scatterometers and the lidar-radiometer inferred near-surface moisture are used to obtain an estimate of the surface flux of moisture via bulk aerodynamic formulae. The results are compared with the Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) daily average latent heat flux and show reasonable agreement. However, the SSM/I values are biased high by about 30 W/m2. In addition, the MABL height, entrainment zone thickness and integrated lidar backscatter intensity are computed from the lidar data and compared with the magnitude of the surface fluxes. The results show that the surface latent heat flux is most strongly correlated with entrainment zone top, bottom and the integrated MABL lidar backscatter, with corresponding correlation coefficients of 0.62, 0.67 and 0.61, respectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)178-189
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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