Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 26 Issue 02

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Volume 26, No. 2
Pages 8 - 9


RIP CURRENT – NEWS IN OCEANOGRAPHY • Hurricane Sandy Storm Surge Measured by Satellite Altimetry

By John Lillibridge , Mingsen Lin, and C.K. Shum 
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Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the East Coast of the United States around midnight UTC on October 30, 2012. What made this hurricane so devastating was the storm surge, which pushed water levels one to three meters above normal along the New Jersey and New York coasts. The radar altimeter on the HaiYang (“Ocean” in Chinese) 2A (HY-2A) satellite measured the size and offshore structure of the surge at its peak, across Long Island’s south shore. Significant wave heights measured by the altimeter reached almost 8 m near shore, and the combined effect of storm surge and high surf led to severe coastal inundation. The analysis presented here documents the largest storm surge signal to be captured by satellite altimetry to date, nearly 1.5 m, with validation provided by the nearby tide gauge at Montauk, NY.


Lillibridge, J., M. Lin, and C.K. Shum. 2013. Hurricane Sandy storm surge measured by satellite altimetry. Oceanography 26(2):8–9, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2013.18.


Han, G., Z. Ma, D. Chen, B. deYoung, and N. Chen. 2012. Observing storm surges from space: Hurricane Igor off Newfoundland. Scientific Reports, https://doi.org/10.1038/srep01010.

Scharroo, R., W.H.F. Smith, and J.L. Lillibridge. 2005. Satellite altimetry and the intensification of Hurricane Katrina. Eos Transactions, American Geophysical Union 86(40):366, https://doi.org/10.1029/2005EO400004.

Schaeffer, P., A. Ollivier, Y. Faugere, E. Bronner, and N. Picot. 2010. The new CNES CLS 2010 Mean Sea surface. Paper presented at the Ocean Surface Topography Science Team Meeting, Lisbon, Portugal, October 2010, http://www.aviso.oceanobs.com/fileadmin/documents/OSTST/2010/oral/Schaeffer.pdf.

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