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Journal Article

Validation and assimilation of Seasat altimeter wave heights using the WAM wave model


Bauer,  Eva
MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;

Hasselmann,  Susanne
MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;


Hasselmann,  Klaus F.
MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;

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Bauer, E., Hasselmann, S., Hasselmann, K. F., & Graber, H. C. (1992). Validation and assimilation of Seasat altimeter wave heights using the WAM wave model. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 97, 12671-12682. doi:10.1029/92JC01056.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0008-8992-8
The mutual consistency of the Seasat global data sets of scatterometer winds and altimeter wave heights is investigated for the complete Seasat period using the third-generation wave model WAM. The wave model was driven by surface (1000 hPa) wind and surface stress fields constructed by the Goddard Laboratory for Atmospheres (GLA) by assimilation of the scatterometer winds in an atmospheric model. For the 10-day period September 7?17 the intercomparison was extended to two further scatterometer wind fields: a 1000-hPa assimilated wind field from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts and a subjectively analyzed 19.5-m-height surface wind field from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. On the global average, the modeled and observed wave heights agree reasonably well. Regional differences, however, can be large and sometimes exceed 40%. The errors are attributed mainly to deficiencies in the forcing wind fields. Low wind speeds are found to be overestimated and high wind speeds underestimated by the Seasat scatterometer algorithm. The friction velocities of the GLA model are found to be significantly underestimated in the high-wind belt of the southern hemisphere. The analysis demonstrates the diagnostic advantages of applying a wave model for the quality assessment of satellite wind and wave data. A preliminary wave data assimilation scheme is presented in which the wave field is updated without changing the forcing wind field. A considerable improvement of the computed wave field is achieved, particularly in regions in which the wave energy is dominated by swell. However, a more general assimilation scheme including modifications of the wind field is needed to upgrade wind sea forecasts.