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Measuring ocean total surface current velocity with the KuROS and KaRADOC airborne near-nadir Doppler radars: a multi-scale analysis in preparation for the SKIM mission

Abstract : Surface currents are poorly known over most of the oceans. Satellite-borne Doppler Waves and Current Scatterom-eters (DWCS) can be used to fill this observation gap. The Sea surface KInematics Multiscale (SKIM) proposal, is the first satellite concept built on a DWCS design at near-nadir angles, and now one of the two candidates to become the 9th mission of the European Space Agency Earth Explorer program. As part of the detailed design and feasibility studies (phase A) funded by ESA, airborne measurements were carried out with both a Ku-Band and a Ka-Band Doppler radars looking at the sea surface at 5 near nadir-incidence in a real-aperture mode, i.e. in a geometry and mode similar to that of SKIM. The airborne radar KuROS was deployed to provide simultaneous measurements of the radar backscatter and Doppler velocity, in a side-looking configuration , with an horizontal resolution of about 5 to 10 m along the line of sight and integrated in the perpendicular direction over the real-aperture 3-dB footprint diameter (about 580 m). The KaRADOC system has a much narrower beam, with a circular footprint only 45 m in diameter. 10 The experiment took place in November 2018 off the French Atlantic coast, with sea states representative of the open ocean and a well known tide-dominated current regime. The data set is analyzed to explore the contribution of non-geophysical velocities to the measurement and how the geophysical part of the measured velocity combines wave-resolved and wave-averaged scales. We find that the measured Doppler velocity contains a characteristic wave phase speed, called here C 0 that is analogous to the Bragg phase speed of coastal High Frequency radars that use a grazing measurement geometry, with little 15 variations ∆ C associated to changes in sea state. The Ka-band measurements at an incidence of 12 • are 10% lower than the theoretical estimate C 0 2.4 m/s for typical oceanic conditions defined by a wind speed of 7 m/s and a significant wave height of 2 m. For Ku-band the measured data is 1 https://doi. 30% lower than the theoretical estimate 2.8 m/s. ∆ C is of the order of 0.2 m/s for a 1 m change in wave height, and cannot be confused with a 1 m/s change in tidal current. The actual measurement of the current velocity from an aircraft at 4 to 18 • incidence angle is, however, made difficult by uncertainties on the measurement geometry, which are much reduced in satellite measurements.
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Louis Marié, Lucia Pineau-Gouillou, Goulwenn Monnier, Fabrice Collard, Frédéric Nouguier, et al.. Measuring ocean total surface current velocity with the KuROS and KaRADOC airborne near-nadir Doppler radars: a multi-scale analysis in preparation for the SKIM mission. Ocean Science, European Geosciences Union, 2020, 16 (6), pp.1399-1429. ⟨10.5194/os-16-1399-2020⟩. ⟨insu-02324463v2⟩



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