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Summary of Proposal OCE2287

TitleWind speed and direction from ocean surface structure; second collection
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 that depends on ocean chemistry, density, and temperature. Understanding the small-scale structure of winds over 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The key factor limiting our understanding of weather patterns over the ocean is low resolution wind data from outdated sensors and overly simplistic analytic methods. Current satellite-borne wind measuring systems give wind measurements spaced 2.5 km apart; our approach yields similarly accurate measurements a few hundred meters apart, largely due to the availability of higher resolution data products from TerraSAR-X. Our focus is on the spatial variability of the ocean surface at small scales (tens of meters), and therefore largely addresses the visiblity of gusts.

The proposed TerraSAR-X collection campaign is the second collection in 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 an oceanographic buoy located in the Gulf of Maine.

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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