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Summary of Proposal OCE1937

TitleWind speed and direction from ocean surface structure; Initial collections
Investigator Robinson, Michael - American University, Mathematics and Statistics
Team MemberNo team members defined

Winds influence the ocean surface in a complicated (and not well-understood) way, which interacts with ocean chemistry, density, and temperature. Understanding the small-scale structure of the ocean surface is critical for understanding the impact of certain rapidly-evolving environmental problems, such as oil spills, algal blooms, and floating debris.

The key factor limiting our understanding of weather patterns over the ocean is low resolution wind data from outdated sensors and overly simplistic analysis methods. We propose (1) to acquire experimentally-controlled high-resolution ocean imagery from TerraSAR-X, and (2) to develop novel, sophisticated image processing algorithms to analyze the resulting data. Current satellite-borne wind measuring systems give wind measurements spaced 2.5 km apart; our approach should yield similarly accurate measurements a few meters apart, largely due to the availability of higher resolution data products from TerraSAR-X. In order to exploit higher-resolution sensors, new algorithms are required that can measure individual waves. Simply making measurements at a higher resolution is not a viable option; the algorithms currently in use rely on the assumption of low image resolution to ``wash out'' individual ocean swells.

The proposed TerraSAR-X collection campaign is part of a larger program, funded internally by American University. The goal of this program is to develop and validate image processing algorithms for the measurement of wind direction over the ocean. We will process high-resolution SAR images collected of the ocean surface using these algorithms and validate them against coincident wind measurements from oceanographic buoys. The collection campaign is organized into two major areas in which historical data indicates there is substantial variability in direction in one area (Gulf of Mexico) and speed in the other (off the coast of Portland, OR, USA).

The program is expected to deliver a detailed final report explaining the algorithms we have developed and found to be most effective, after validating against coincident buoy measurements. We expect that these results will also be presented at a venue with visibility to the international scientific community, and will record our findings by the authoring of journal articles.

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