Anatomy of the Ocean Surface Roughness
NAVAL RESEARCH LAB STENNIS SPACE CENTER MS
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Ocean surface roughness can be decomposed into an ambient component, surface wave geometric contribution the mean square slope, and breaking wave contribution the breaking roughness. Only the last two components can be attributed to local wind conditions for remote sensing considerations. The ambient roughness level is estimated to be about 0.01 from altimeter data. The rate of increase of breaking roughness with wind speed is much faster than the counterpart of the mean square slope of wave geometry. In high wind conditions, the breaking roughness contribution may exceed the wind-wave geometrical contribution. Data collected in clean and slick conditions and newer data of filtered surface roughness derived from spaceborne altimeters are analyzed to provide a quantitative description of the breaking roughness. Application of the refined understanding of surface roughness to improve wind speed retrieval from altimeter data is described.
- Physical and Dynamic Oceanography