Wave climate observed from satellites: trends and inter-annual variability

Justin Stopa (LOPS, France)


Pierre Queffeulou (Ifremer, France); Alexis Mouche (Ifremer, Frace); Fabrice Ardhuin (Ifremer/UBO/IUEM/CNRS, France); Yves Quilfen (Ifremer, France); Bertrand Chapron (Ifremer, France)

Event: 2017 Ocean Surface Topography Science Team Meeting

Session: Science I: Climate data records for understanding the causes of global and regional sea level variability and change

Presentation type: Type Oral

Ocean waves have important implications to society through wave driven inundation. With the expected rise of sea level, dangerous high sea levels driven by waves are important events to understand for mitigation of hazards in the coastal zone. Understanding the wave climate and in particular the wave directionality is of key importance to relate high sea-levels with large-scale wave patterns. In this study we focus on describing the wave climate over the past several decades from satellite data.

While the use of altimeters is driven by the sea level community, these data are sufficiently long for climate studies and have high coverage in space and time making them an attractive source of information for wave studies. Altimeters are limited to describing the significant wave height and wind speed. However, important sea state information regarding wavelengths and directions are not possible from altimeters. This is where data from synthetic aperture radars (SAR) is highly valuable since they effectively estimate wavelengths. While GlobWAVE has made significant strides in producing the quality datasets for both altimeters and SARs, these data were not specifically produced for climate studies. This is the main reason, the European Space Agency (ESA) will conduct a climate change initiative on the sea state (CCI-SeaState). The project will focus on producing the better quality data datasets from satellites including altimeters and SARs. There will be emphasis on estimating sea states in the nearshore and in extreme events and most importantly suitable for climate applications.

In this study we explore the GlobWAVE altimeter and SAR datasets to describe the wave climate. The altimeter dataset starts in 1985 with GEOSAT and we have continuous coverage since 1992. The SAR dataset starts in 1995 with ERS2 (1995-1999) and continues with ENVISAT (2002-2012) and the Sentinel-1 missions (2014-present). Using these datasets we describe the inter-annual variability and trends. This 31-year altimeter and 18-year SAR time series have many important applications to better understand the wave climate. We discuss our results within the context of the ESA Sea State CCI and note areas of research that need further efforts to make them suitable for climate studies.

Oral presentation show times:

RoomStart DateEnd Date
Symphony Ballroom IV Mon, Oct 23 2017,17:15 Mon, Oct 23 2017,17:30
Justin Stopa