SMAP L-Band Passive Microwave Observations of Ocean Surface Wind During Severe Storms

Simon H. Yueh, Alexander G. Fore, Wenqing Tang, Akiko Hayashi, Bryan Stiles, Nicolas Reul, Yonghui Weng, Fuqing Zhang

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59 Scopus citations


The L-band passive microwave data from the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory are investigated for remote sensing of ocean surface winds during severe storms. The surface winds of Joaquin derived from the real-time analysis of the Center for Advanced Data Assimilation and Predictability Techniques at Penn State support the linear extrapolation of the Aquarius and SMAP geophysical model functions (GMFs) to hurricane force winds. We apply the SMAP and Aquarius GMFs to the retrieval of ocean surface wind vectors from the SMAP radiometer data to take advantage of SMAP's two-look geometry. The SMAP radiometer winds are compared with the winds from other satellites and numerical weather models for validation. The root-mean-square difference (RMSD) with WindSat or Special Sensor Microwave Imager/Sounder is 1.7 m/s below 20-m/s wind speeds. The RMSD with the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts direction is 18° for wind speeds between 12 and 30 m/s. We find that the correlation is sufficiently high between the maximum wind speeds retrieved by SMAP with a 60-km resolution and the best track peak winds estimated by the National Hurricane Center and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center to allow them to be estimated by SMAP with a correlation coefficient of 0.8 and an underestimation by 8%-18% on average, which is likely due to the effects of spatial averaging. There is also a good agreement with the airborne Stepped-Frequency Radiometer wind speeds with an RMSD of 4.6 m/s for wind speeds in the range of 20-40 m/s.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7339-7350
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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