Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 22 Issue 02

View Issue TOC
Volume 22, No. 2
Pages 194 - 207


Operational Use and Impact of Satellite Remotely Sensed Ocean Surface Vector Winds in the Marine Warning and Forecasting Environment

Paul S. Chang Zorana JelenakJoseph M. Sienkiewicz Richard Knabb Michael J. BrennanDavid G. LongMark Freeberg
Article Abstract

In 2002, a National Oceanographic Partnership Program project was initiated with the ambitious objective of maximizing the use of currently and soon-to-be-available satellite ocean surface vector wind (OSVW) data, such as NASA’s QuikSCAT scatterometer, in the operational weather forecasting and warning environment. This effort brought together people from the operational forecasting and satellite remote-sensing communities, academia, and the private sector. This diverse gathering of skill and experience yielded documentation of the impacts of these data in the operational short-term warning and forecasting environment of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) National Weather Service, improvement in the use of these data in the public and private sectors, and the transition of promising research results into the operational environment. This project helped create momentum that has continued to grow long after the formal effort ended; today, NOAA uses QuikSCAT operationally and is investigating how to best establish a sustained satellite OSVW observing capability.


Chang, P.S., Z. Jelenak, J.M. Sienkiewicz, R. Knabb, M.J. Brennan, D.G. Long, and M. Freeberg. 2009. Operational use and impact of satellite remotely sensed ocean surface vector winds in the marine warning and forecasting environment. Oceanography 22(2):194–207, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2009.49.


Brennan, M.J., H.D. Cobb, III, and R.D. Knabb. 2007. Observations of Gulf of Tehuantepec gap wind events from QuikSCAT: An updated event climatology and operational model evaluatio., 22nd Conference on Weather Analysis and Forecasting/18th Conference on Numerical Weather Prediction, Park City, UT, American Meteorological Society. Available online at: http://ams.confex.com/ams/pdfpapers/124096.pdf (accessed March 21, 2009).

Brennan, M.J., C.C. Hennon, and R.D. Knabb. In press. The operational use of QuikSCAT ocean surface vector winds at the National Hurricane Center. Weather and Forecasting.

Chang, P.S., and Z. Jelenek. 2006. NOAA Operational Ocean Surface Vector Winds Requirements Workshop Report. 52 pp. Available online at: http://manati.orbit.nesdis.noaa.gov/SVW_nextgen/SVW_workshop_report_final.pdf (accessed March 21, 2009).

Edson, R.T., M.A. Lander, C.E. Cantrell, J.L. Franklin, P.S. Chang, and J.D. Hawkins. 2002. Operational use of QuikSCAT over tropical cyclones. Twenty-fifth Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology, San Diego, CA, American Meteorological Society.

Gaston, R., and E. Rodriguez. 2008. QuikSCAT Follow-On Concept Study. JPL Publication 08-18, 66 pp. Available online at: http://winds.jpl.nasa.gov/publications/index.cfm (accessed March 25, 2009).

Gelsthorpe, R., E. Schied, and J. Wilson. 2000. ASCAT- METOP’s advanced scatterometer. ESA Bulletin 102:19–27.

Jelenak, Z., and P. S. Chang. 2008. NOAA Operational Satellite Ocean Surface Vector Winds - QuikSCAT Follow-On Mission. User Impact Study Report, 90 pp. Available online at: http://manati.orbit.nesdis.noaa.gov/SVW_nextgen/QFO_user_impact_study_final.pdf (accessed March 21, 2009).

Jet Propulsion Laboratory. 2006. QuikSCAT Science Data Product User’s Manual. JPL Publication D-18053-RevA, 91 pp. Available online at: ftp://podaac.jpl.nasa.gov/ocean_wind/quikscat/L2B/doc/QSUG_v3.pdf (accessed March 25, 2009).

Jones, S.C., P.A. Harr, J. Abraham, L.F. Bosart, P.J. Bowyer, J.L. Evans, D.E. Hanley, B.N. Hanstrum, R.E. Hart, F. Lalaurette, and others. 2003. The extratropical transition of tropical cyclones: Forecast challenges, current understanding, and future directions. Weather and Forecasting 18:1,052–1,092.

Kite-Powell, H. 2000. Benefits of NPOESS for Commercial Ship Routing: Travel Time Savings. Report to the National Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) Integrated Program Office, Washington, DC. Available from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Marine Policy Center.

Kite-Powell, H. 2008. Benefits to Maritime Commerce from Ocean Surface Vector Wind Observations and Forecasts.15 pp. Available online at: http://manati.orbit.nesdis.noaa.gov/SVW_nextgen/QuikSCAT_maritime_report_final.pdf (accessed March 21, 2009).

Long, D.G. 2004. Reconstruction of high resolution ocean wind vectors from low resolution scatterometer measurements. Pp. 196–207 in Proceedings of SPIE Volume 5562 Image Reconstruction from Incomplete Data III. P.J. Bones, M.A. Fiddy, and R.P. Millane, eds, SPIE, Bellingham, WA.

Milliff, R.F., and P.A. Stamus. 2008. QuikSCAT impacts on coastal forecasts and warnings: Operational utility of satellite ocean surface vector wind data. Weather And Forecasting 23:878–890.

Naderi, F., M.H. Freilich, and D.G. Long. 1991. Spaceborne radar measurement of wind velocity over the ocean—An overview of the NSCAT scatterometer system. Proceedings of the IEEE 79(6):850–866.

National Research Council. 2007. Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 456 pp. Available online at: http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11820#toc (accessed March 21, 2009).

Ocean Prediction Center. 2006. 2006 Accomplishments. Available at: www.opc.ncep.noaa.gov/Accomplishments/2006.pdf (accessed March 25, 2009).

Ocean Prediction Center. 2007. 2007 Accomplishments. Available at: www.opc.ncep.noaa.gov/Accomplishments/2007.pdf (accessed March 25, 2009).

Owen, M.P., and D.G. Long. 2008a. Land contamination compensation for QuikSCAT near-coastal wind retrieval. Paper presented at the International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium, July 6–11, 2008, Boston, MA.

Owen, M.P., and D.G. Long. 2008b. Progress toward validation of QuikSCAT ultra-high-resolution rain rates using TRMM PR. Paper presented at the International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium, July 6–11, 2008, Boston, MA.

Plagge, A., D. Vandemark, and D. Long. 2008. Validation and evaluation of QuikSCAT ultra-high resolution wind retrieval in the Gulf of Maine. Paper presented at the International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium, July 6–11, 2008, Boston, MA.

Said, F., and D.G. Long. 2008. Effectiveness of QuikSCAT’s ultra high resolution Images in determining tropical storm eye location. Paper presented at the International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium, July 6–11, 2008, Boston, MA.

Sanders, F., and J.R. Gyakum. 1980. Synoptic–dynamic climatology of the “bomb.” Monthly Weather Review 108:1,590–1,606.

Stoffelen, A., and D. Anderson.1993. ERS-1 scatterometer data characteristics and wind retrieval skill. Pp. 41–47 in Proceedings of the First ERS-1 Symposium. Cannes, France, European Space Agency Special Publication, ESA SP-359.

Verhoef, A., and A. Stoffelen. 2008. ERS Scatterometer Product User Manual version 1.6. Document external project, KNMI publication, 212f, EUMETSAT.

Von Ahn, J.M., J.M. Sienkiewicz, and P.S. Chang. 2006. Operational impact of QuikSCAT winds at the NOAA Ocean Prediction Center. Weather and Forecasting 21:523–539.

Williams, B.A., and D.G. Long. 2008a. Estimation of hurricane winds from SeaWinds at ultra high resolution. IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing 46(10):2,924–2,935.

Williams, B.A., and D.G. Long. 2008b. Rain and wind estimation from SeaWinds in hurricanes at ultra high resolution. Paper presented at the International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium, July 6–11, 2008, Boston, MA.

Williams, B. A., and D.G. Long. 2006. An improved high resolution wind ambiguity removal procedure for SeaWinds. Pp. 2,643–2,646 in Proceedings of the International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium. July 31–August 4, 2006, Denver, CO.

Year of the ocean: The U.S. marine transportation system. 1998. Year of the Ocean Discussion Papers, Office of the Chief Scientist, NOAA. Available online at: http://www.yoto98.noaa.gov/papers.htm (accessed March 21, 2009).

Copyright & Usage

This is an open access article made available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution, and reproduction in any medium or format as long as users cite the materials appropriately, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate the changes that were made to the original content. Images, animations, videos, or other third-party material used in articles are included in the Creative Commons license unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If the material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission directly from the license holder to reproduce the material.