An introduction to the near-real-time QuikSCAT data

Author: Ross N. Hoffman and S. Mark Leidner
August 8, 2005
Journal Article
Weather and Forecasting

Hoffman, Ross N., S. Mark Leidner, 2005: An Introduction to the Near–Real–Time QuikSCAT Data. Wea. Forecasting, 20, 476–493.
doi: 10.1175/WAF841.1

The NASA Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT) satellite carries the SeaWinds instrument, the first satellite-borne scanning radar scatterometer. QuikSCAT, which was launched on 19 June 1999, is designed to provide accurate ocean surface winds in all conditions except for moderate to heavy rain (i.e., except for vertically integrated rain rate >2.0 km mm h−1, the value used to tune the SeaWinds rain flag). QuikSCAT data are invaluable in providing high-quality, high-resolution winds to detect and locate precisely significant meteorological features and to produce accurate ocean surface wind analyses. QuikSCAT has an 1800-km-wide swath. A representative swath of data in the North Atlantic at 2200 UTC 28 September 2000, which contains several interesting features, reveals some of the capabilities of QuikSCAT. Careful quality control is vital for flagging data that are affected by rain and for flagging errors during ambiguity removal. In addition, an understanding of the instrument and algorithm characteristics provides insights into the factors controlling data quality for QuikSCAT. For example data quality is reduced for low wind speeds, and for locations either close to nadir or to the swath edges. The special data characteristics of the QuikSCAT scatterometer are revealed by examining the likelihood or objective function. The objective function is equal to the sum of squared scaled differences between observed and simulated normalized reflected radar power. The authors present typical examples and discuss the associated data quality concerns for different parts of the swath, for different wind speeds, and for rain versus no rain.