Buoy perspective of a high-resolution global ocean vector wind analysis constructed from passive radiometers and active scatterometers (1987-present) Academic Article uri icon


  • The study used 126 buoy time series as a benchmark to evaluate a satellite-based daily, 0.25-degree gridded global ocean surface vector wind analysis developed by the Objectively Analyzed airs-sea Fluxes (OAFlux) project. The OAFlux winds were produced from synthesizing wind speed and direction retrievals from 12 sensors acquired during the satellite era from July 1987 onward. The 12 sensors included scatterometers (QuikSCAT and ASCAT), passive microwave radiometers (AMSRE, SSMI and SSMIS series), and the passive polarimetric microwave radiometer from WindSat. Accuracy and consistency of the OAFlux time series are the key issues examined here. A total of 168,836 daily buoy measurements were assembled from 126 buoys, including both active and archive sites deployed during 1988–2010. With 106 buoys from the tropical array network, the buoy winds are a good reference for wind speeds in low and mid-range. The buoy comparison shows that OAFlux wind speed has a mean difference of ?0.13 ms?1 and an RMS difference of 0.71 ms?1, and wind direction has a mean difference of ?0.55 degree and an RMS difference of 17 degrees. Vector correlation of OAFlux and buoy winds is of 0.9 and higher over almost all the sites. Influence of surface currents on the OAFlux/buoy mean difference pattern is displayed in the tropical Pacific, with higher (lower) OAFlux wind speed in regions where wind and current have the opposite (same) sign. Improved representation of daily wind variability by the OAFlux synthesis is suggested, and a decadal signal in global wind speed is evident.

publication date

  • November 2012