On the Surface Current Measurement Capabilities of Spaceborne Doppler...

Wineteer, A., H. Torres, and E. Rodriguez (2020), On the Surface Current Measurement Capabilities of Spaceborne Doppler Scatterometry, Geophys. Res. Lett., 47, doi:10.1029/2020GL090116.

Wide-swath spaceborne Doppler scatterometry is a promising technique for the simultaneous measurement of global ocean surface winds and currents. The technique has been proven from airborne platforms, and here we use the lessons learned to examine a range of implications for a spaceborne system. We use a Doppler scatterometer simulator and a state-of-the-art global circulation model to generate surface current measurements and their random errors. We find that a feasible instrument could measure 5 km gridded surface currents with typical random errors between 10 and 25 cm/s. For higher wind speeds, the random error in surface current decreases logarithmically. This level of accuracy allows for the computation of surface current relative vorticity and horizontal divergence with typical wavelength resolutions of 15–30 and 25–60 km, respectively. Unlike previous studies, we find that these measurements do not require multiday averaging, opening up new avenues for monitoring global ocean circulation.

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Physical Oceanography Program (POP)