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Science Highlights


One sentence introductions to highlights, and links to more detailed descriptions. The highlights cover the work of many research teams, but only describe a small fraction of the SeaWinds-related research. More additions from SeaWinds-research and applications are welcome.

Highlights from many of the Ocean Vector Winds Science Team (arrange to person rather than topic).


Accuracy of Observations
  • SeaWinds observations have been validated against a wide range of surface truth (J. Ardizzone, R. Atlas, A. Bentamy, S. Bloom, M. Bourassa, J. Boutin, R. Brown, M. Caruso, S. Dickinson, N. Ebuchi, J. Etcheto, R. Foster, M. Freilich, H. Graber, L. Jones, K. Kelly, V. Lebourcher, D. Legler, D. Long, R. Milliff, P. Niiler, J. O'Brien, W. Pierson, S. Pouliquen, M. Rafizadeh, D. Smith, W. Sylvester, J. Terry, F. Wentz).

  • Unlike other remote sensors of winds, SeaWinds accurately determines wind directions as well as wind speeds.

  • Validation with high-quality research vessel observations show unprecedented accuracy of remotely sensed winds (M. A. Bourassa, D. M. Legler, J. J. O'Brien, and R. S. Smith).

  • Improved physical assumptions and statistical approaches indicate that the random uncertainty (one standard deviation) in wind speed is 0.65 m/s, and the uncertainty in direction is 5 degrees (M. A. Bourassa, D. M. Legler, J. J. O'Brien, and R. S. Smith).

  • Improved 'ambiguity selection' means fewer large errors in direction (M. A. Bourassa, D. M. Legler, J. J. O'Brien, and R. S. Smith).

Observational Coverage
  • Observational coverage meets design specification of 90% global coverage every 24 hours.

  • Experimental 20 km resolution product shows great promise (W.-Y. Tsai).

  • Near real-time data is available. Quality appears to be good (P. Chang, L. Connor, E. Legg, J. Augenbaum, and J. Carswell).

Tropical Storms

Atmospheric Fronts

Numerical Weather Prediction

Other Meteorological Studies

Gridded Wind Products
  • Several research groups have produced gridded wind products that can be used in ocean and atmospheric models (Bourassa and O'Brien based on Pegion et al. (2000); Liu and Tang, personal communication, 1999).

Ocean Modeling Results Based on QuikSCAT Winds

Long-Term Climatology and Global Change

Model Function Improvements

Remote Sensing


    • QuikSCAT is highly sensitive to rain (Jones et al.; Portabella et al.; Spencer and Long; Weissman et al.; Wentz et al.).


Model Function

Ocean Modeling Studies


Land Studies

Plans for the Future

A longer period of these high quality winds will be foster a great number of oceanographic and meteorological studies, covering a wide range of scales and applications. The upcoming SeaWinds instrument on ADEOS-2 will double coverage. This is an exceptionally exciting time for oceanography and air-sea interaction, and the expected success of the QuikSCAT mission bodes well for the immediate future.

For the more distant future, we could have a SeaWinds instrument on ADEOS-3. Additional instruments for measuring vector winds are in development by the European Community (ASCAT) and the Office of Naval Research (WINDSAT). For the near future we can expect that sailors of all types will download the latest surface wind chart from satellites, and "see" the sea around them for safety, recreation, and marine operations. The successes of NSCAT and QuikSCAT have shown light on many future applications!

Additions to this page

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  • Pegion, P. J., M. A. Bourassa, D. M. Legler, and J. J. O'Brien, 2000: Objectively-derived daily "winds" from satellite scatterometer data. Mon. Wea Rev., in press.