National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2023

Saildrone direct covariance wind stress in various wind and current regimes of the tropical Pacific

Reeves Eyre, J.E.J., M.F. Cronin, D. Zhang, E.J. Thompson, C.W. Fairall, and J.B. Edson

J. Atmos. Oceanic Tech., 40(4), 503–517, doi: 10.1175/JTECH-D-22-0077.1, View open access article online at AMS (external link) (2023)

High-frequency wind measurements from Saildrone autonomous surface vehicles are used to calculate wind stress in the tropical east Pacific. Comparison between direct covariance (DC) and bulk wind stress estimates demonstrates very good agreement. Building on previous work that showed the bulk input data were reliable, our results lend credibility to the DC estimates. Wind flow distortion by Saildrones is comparable to or smaller than other platforms. Motion correction results in realistic wind spectra, albeit with signatures of swell-coherent wind fluctuations that may be unrealistically strong. Fractional differences between DC and bulk wind stress magnitude are largest at wind speeds below 4 m s−1. The size of this effect, however, depends on choice of stress direction assumptions. Past work has shown the importance of using current-relative (instead of Earth-relative) winds to achieve accurate wind stress magnitude. We show that it is also important for wind stress direction.

Feature Publications | Outstanding Scientific Publications

Contact Sandra Bigley |