National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2001

Comparisons between TAO buoy and NASA scatterometer wind vectors

Dickinson, S., K.A. Kelly, M.J. Caruso, and M.J. McPhaden

J. Atmos. Ocean. Technol., 18(5), 799–806, doi: 10.1175/1520-0426(2001)018<0799:CBTTBA>2 (2001)

There was an opportunity to compare 10 months of collocated National Aeronautics and Space Administration scatterometer (NSCAT) wind vectors with those from the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) buoy array, located in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Over 5500 data pairs, from nearly 70 buoys, were collocated in the calibration/validation effort for NSCAT. These data showed that the wind speeds produced from the NSCAT-1 model function were low by about 7%–8% compared with TAO buoy winds. The revised model function, NSCAT-2, produces wind speeds with a bias of about 1%. The scatterometer directions were within 20° (rms), meeting accuracy requirements, when compared to TAO data. The mean direction bias between the TAO and the NSCAT vectors (regardless of model function) is about 9° with the scatterometer winds to the right of the TAO winds, which may be due to swell. The statistics of the two datasets are discussed, using component biases in lieu of the speed bias, which is naturally skewed. Using ocean currents and buoy winds measured along the equator, it is shown that the scatterometer measures the wind relative to the moving ocean surface. In addition, a systematic effect of rain on the NSCAT wind retrievals is noted. In all analyses presented here, winds less than 3 m s−1 are removed, due to the difficulty in making accurate low wind measurements.

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