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Ocean Surface Topography from Space
Altimetry and operational wind-wave prediction - combined use to enhance both systems
Douglas Vandemark
(University of New Hampshire)

Fabrice Ardhuin
Bertrand Chapron
(IFREMER/Centre de Brest)
Hui Feng
(University of New Hampshire)
Ngan Tran
(Collecte Localisation Satellites (CLS))
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Maritime wave forecasting owes much to global ocean sea state data supplied daily by satellite altimeters. This research further expands altimeter data application to wave forecasting, and also applies global wave model data to improved Jason and OSTM sea level estimates. Specifically, we assess numerical wind-wave forecast performance pertaining to wave breaking and wave-current interaction processes using altimeter-derived ocean surface currents and altimeter backscatter and sea state data from multiple satellites. We will also complete the development of an alternative approach to systematically correct for OSTM altimeter sea level error due to an unresolved dependence on ocean wave conditions. Altimeter-informed analysis of wind-wave processes will be performed using twin experiments with the Wavewatch 3 model. NOAA/NDBC wave buoy data will be central to algorithm developments and validation, with key model improvements implemented into the operational NCEP Wavewatch 3 product. The altimeter sea state bias correction will be developed using an empirical algorithm informed by a combination of wave model and altimeter data. Two key objectives are the support of wind/wave generation studies utilizing Jason/OSTM mission data, and the completion of comparison studies between Jason and OSTM including the development of and assessment of new geophysical algorithms likely to improve the quality of data. Societal needs are addressed by enhancing both satellite altimeter accuracy and altimeter applications to operational marine wave forecasting and strengthening ties between these important activities. This impact includes science-driven improvements to wind-wave forecast model performance in prediction of sea state and breaking waves, and evaluation of a new and exciting application of satellite-derived ocean surface current data to wave propagation prediction on the high seas. Improvements to sea level through the revised sea state bias correction model are expected to move OSTM altimeter accuracy towards the 2.5 cm goal.

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