Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-2995
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-2995
04 Jan 2024
 | 04 Jan 2024

A new airborne system for simultaneous high-resolution ocean vector current and wind mapping: first demonstration of the SeaSTAR mission concept in the macrotidal Iroise Sea

David Lewis McCann, Adrien C. H. Martin, Karlus Macedo, Ruben Carrasco Alvarez, Jochen Horstmann, Louis Marié, José Márquez-Martínez, Marcos Portabella, Adriano Meta, Christine Gommenginger, Petronilo Martin-Iglesias, and Tania Casal

Abstract. Coastal seas, shelf seas and marginal ice zones are dominated by small-scale ocean surface dynamic processes that play a vital role in the transport and exchange of climate-relevant properties like carbon, heat, water and nutrients between land, ocean, ice and atmosphere. Mounting evidence indicates that ocean scales below 10 km have far-ranging impacts on air-sea interactions, lateral ocean dispersion, vertical stratification, ocean carbon cycling, and marine productivity – governing exchanges across key interfaces of the Earth System, the global ocean and atmosphere circulation and climate. Yet, these processes remain poorly observed at the fine spatial and temporal scales necessary to resolve them. Ocean Surface Current Airborne Radar (OSCAR) is a new airborne instrument with the capacity to inform these questions by mapping vectorial fields of total ocean surface currents and winds at high resolution over a wide swath. Developed for the European Space Agency (ESA), OSCAR is the airborne demonstrator of the satellite mission concept ‘SeaSTAR’, which aims to map total surface current and ocean wind vectors with unprecedented accuracy, spatial resolution and temporal revisit across all coastal seas, shelf seas and marginal ice zones. Like SeaSTAR, OSCAR is an active microwave Synthetic Aperture Radar Along-Track Interferometer (SAR-ATI) with optimal three-azimuth sensing enabled by unique highly-squinted beams. In May 2022, OSCAR was flown over the Iroise Sea, France, in its first scientific campaign as part of the ESA-funded SEASTARex project. The campaign successfully demonstrated the capabilities of OSCAR to produce high-resolution 2D images of total surface current vectors and near-surface ocean vector winds, simultaneously, in a highly dynamic, macrotidal coastal environment. OSCAR current and wind vectors show excellent agreement against ground-based X-band radar derived surface currents, numerical model outputs and NovaSAR-1 satellite SAR imagery, with Root-Mean-Square differences against X-band radar better than 0.2 m s-1 for currents at 200 m resolution. These results are the first demonstration of simultaneous retrieval of total current and wind vectors from a high-squint three-look SAR-ATI instrument, and the first geophysical validation of the OSCAR and SeaSTAR observing principle. OSCAR presents a remarkable new ocean observing capability to support the study of small-scale ocean dynamics and air-sea interactions across the Earth’s coastal, shelf and polar.

Publisher's note: Copernicus Publications remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims made in the text, published maps, institutional affiliations, or any other geographical representation in this preprint. The responsibility to include appropriate place names lies with the authors.
David Lewis McCann, Adrien C. H. Martin, Karlus Macedo, Ruben Carrasco Alvarez, Jochen Horstmann, Louis Marié, José Márquez-Martínez, Marcos Portabella, Adriano Meta, Christine Gommenginger, Petronilo Martin-Iglesias, and Tania Casal

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2995', Anonymous Referee #1, 06 Mar 2024
    • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2995', Alejandro Orfila, 12 Jun 2024
      • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', David L. McCann, 12 Jun 2024
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', David L. McCann, 12 Jun 2024
David Lewis McCann, Adrien C. H. Martin, Karlus Macedo, Ruben Carrasco Alvarez, Jochen Horstmann, Louis Marié, José Márquez-Martínez, Marcos Portabella, Adriano Meta, Christine Gommenginger, Petronilo Martin-Iglesias, and Tania Casal
David Lewis McCann, Adrien C. H. Martin, Karlus Macedo, Ruben Carrasco Alvarez, Jochen Horstmann, Louis Marié, José Márquez-Martínez, Marcos Portabella, Adriano Meta, Christine Gommenginger, Petronilo Martin-Iglesias, and Tania Casal

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Short summary
This paper presents the results of the first scientific campaign of a new method to remotely sense the small scale, fast-evolving dynamics that are vital to our understanding of coastal and shelf sea processes. This work represents the first demonstration of the simultaneous measurement of current and wind vectors from this novel method. Comparisons with other current measuring systems and models around the dynamic area of the Iroise Sea are presented and show excellent agreement.