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

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Volume 26, No. 2
Pages 34 - 45


Seasat to RADARSAT-2: Research to Operations

By Frank M. Monaldo , Christopher R. Jackson , and William G. Pichel  
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Article Abstract

In 2013, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) brought to operations a synthetic aperture radar (SAR)-derived subkilometer resolution wind speed product. This transition from research to operations comes 35 years after the 1978 launch of the US Seasat satellite, which demonstrated that radar backscatter from active microwave instruments in orbit can provide detailed information about ocean surface waves, winds, and sea surface height. NOAA’s initial source of data for operational SAR winds is Radarsat-2, which was launched in 2007 by the Canadian Space Agency. In this paper, we discuss the history of our understanding of the relationship between microwave measurements, particularly SAR measurements, and wind speed, and how a spaceborne instrument first designed to measure ocean waves is now routinely used to derive wind speeds.


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