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SeaWinds on ADEOS-II and QuikScat

SeaWinds on ADEOS II (127K gif)and SeaWinds on QuikScat (101K gif) are follow-on missions to the successful NASA Scatterometer (NSCAT) mission. SeaWinds is a scanning dual pencil-beam Ku-band scatterometer. Seawinds on ADEOS II is scheduled for Launch in early 2000 aboard ADEOS-II.

SeaWinds on QuikScat is a fast-track Seawinds instrument flying on a dedicated spacecraft. SeaWinds was successfully launched in June 1999 aboard the Quikbird spacecraft atop a Titan launch vehicle (144K gif). QuikScat Logo (101K gif). Additional animated images are available from the QuikScat Movie page.

RapidSCAT is a slightly modified Seawinds flying on the International Space Station (ISS). It was launched in Aug. 2014.

Iceberg Tracking with SeaWinds on QuikScat data

SeaWinds is designed to measure ocean winds (299k Quiktime movie), but is useful in many other applications. One of the more innovative new applications is in iceberg tracking. Shortly after instrument turn on in early July, 1999, QuikScat located a massive iceberg, later identified as B10A, floating in the Drake Passage between South America and Antarctica. Its location was relayed to the National Ice Center who issued a shipping advisory on the story. JPL issued a Press Release on the story. The 38 km by 77 km iceberg was first spotted in an enhanced resolution image (157K gif) produced by Dr. Long from QuikScat data using the SIRF algorithm. He also generated an animated movie [JD 194-276 (455K mpeg)] [JD 200-298 (300K AVI)] [JD 200-298 (372K QuikTime)] [JD 200-298 (4MB QuikTime)] of the iceberg movement. Each image in this movie was produced with one day of QuikScat data.

Other images of this iceberg have been collected from satellite sensors, for example, a Radarsat SAR image (125K jpg), DMSP OLS (686K jpg) and LandSat image (196K jpg) (closeup 115K jpg) (from the National Ice Center web site). The National Ice Center is a branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)). The UMET office out of the Falklands recently flew an aircraft to make observations (156K gif) of the iceberg.

In early October, 1999, B10A was joined by another superberg, A22B (12 NM x 35 NM), in the Drake Passage. A22B originally calved from the Ronne Iceshelf in 1986 and has been floating in the Weddell Sea until just recently. It can be seen moving northward in the QuikScat movies [JD 200,1999 - 098,2000 (3MB mpeg)] [JD 200,1999 - 098,2000 (3.8MB QuickTime)] [JD 274,1999 - 098,2000 (8.9MB AVI)] . Each image in this movie was produced with one day of QuikScat data. An AVHRR visible image (2.1MB) from Oct. 13, 1999 shows both icebergs.

On January 11, 2000 B10A broke up in at least two smaller pieces while it was just west of South Georgia Island. A22B, an equally large iceberg is nearby. An image (4MB gif) image shows a time sequence of enhanced resolution scatterometer observations of B10A's break up on JD11, 2000 near South Georgia Island in the South Atlantic. A22B is nearby. The image consists of 6 rows of images with time running to the right. For each day there are two images, one morning and one evening. The top row images were created from Seawinds 13.5 GHz V-pol 'eggs' using the SIR resolution enhancement algorithm. The pixel resolution is ~2.225 km. The second row was created from Seawinds 13.5 GHz H-pol 'eggs'. The last rows were created from 'slices' measurements using the SIRF resolution enhancement algorithm while the center rows were done with the AVE algorithm. Note that the intrinsic resolution of the SeaWinds sensor is approximately 7x25 km but is improved with the algorithms. Since the algorithms tend to have artifacts over the ocean, seeing all the versions can be helpful for interpretting the images. The ocean appears dark when the wind speed is low and lightens for higher wind speeds which accounts for the lightening and darkening of the images. Generally, glacial ice shows up brightly against the ocean, but can be hid when the wind speed is high. The images show that on JD9 B10A is in one piece but that by JD12 it is clearly in multiple pieces. The demise of B10A and A22B just NW of South Georgia Island can be seen in the the following animations: [JD 1-128, 2000 (1.6MB mpeg)] [JD 1-128, 2000 (3.5MB QuickTime)] [JD 1-128, 2000 (12.4MB avi)]. A longer time series of these movies can be seen in [JD 1-221, 2000 (34.5MB avi)] [JD 1-221, 2000 (37.7MB animated gif)] [JD 1-221, 2000 (4.8MB mpeg)] [JD 1-221, 2000 (5.5MB QuickTime)]. An ascii file (11k) containing the positions of the icebergs from JD200, 1999 through their demise is available.

The calving and motion of major icebergs in the Weddell and Ross Seas of Antarctica can be seen in these animations: (these have been reduced in resolution for easier download and viewing) [Weddell Sea JD 137-225, 2000 (14.4MB avi)] [Weddell Sea JD 137-225, 2000 (15.2MB animated gif)] [Weddell Sea JD 137-225, 2000 (1.5MB mpeg)] [Weddell Sea JD 137-225, 2000 (3.0MB QuickTime)] and [Ross Sea JD 90-226, 2000 (16.8MB avi)] [Ross Sea JD 90-226, 2000 (50.9MB animated gif)] [Ross Sea JD 90-226, 2000 (4.0MB QuikTime)]. The dynamics of both the sea ice motion and major icebergs are clearly evident.

Sea Ice Extent from SeaWinds on QuikScat data

Besides tracking icebergs QuikScat data will be very useful in other polar ice studies. A key application is sea ice extent mapping. Sample results (1.1MB gif) from applying Remund and Long's ice edge detection algorithm for Antarctica to QuikScat data are very encouraging and illustrate the resolution of the processed data. A [JD 200-266 mpeg movie (366K)] [JD 200-350 AVI movie (1MB)] [JD 200-350 QuikTime movie (1.25MB)] of ice-masked images is available. (In the movie, white areas in the sea-ice are due to missing scatterometer data.) Initial results for ice motion tracking are also encouraging. These results can be viewed from Mark Drinkwater's web site (follow the Research then Antarctic Sea Ice links).

QuikScat Data Products

Under the direction of Dr. Long, the MERS lab will produce a series of standard image products from SeaWinds data. These products are described in the MERS QuikScat Products home page which has links to sample data products and data reading software.

QuikScat Calibration Ground Station

A specialized calibration ground station (CGS) has been developed to aid in the calibration of SeaWinds. BYU has been involved in the development and analysis of the QuikScat CGS. Further information is available here.

Selected MERS QuikScat Publications

The MERS laboratory has been involved in the design analysis of the SeaWinds system in support of JPL. Several papers and reports have been generated. Some sample papers include: (More MERS publications)

  • D. G. Long and M. W. Spencer, "Radar Backscatter Measurement Accuracy for a Spaceborne Pencil-Beam Wind Scatterometer with Transmit Modulation," IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Vol. 35, No. 1, pp. 102-114, Jan. 1997.
  • M. W. Spencer, C. Wu, and D. G. Long, "Tradeoffs in the Design of a Spaceborne Scanning Pencil-beam Scatterometer," IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Vol. 35, No. 1, pp. 115-126, Jan. 1997.
  • D. G. Long and M. W. Spencer, "Performance Analysis for the SeaWinds Scatterometer," Proceedings of the International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium, Lincoln, Nebraska, 27-31 May, pp. 1463-1465, 1996.
  • Q.P. Remund and D.G. Long, "Sea Ice Mapping Algorithm for QuikSCAT and Seawinds," Proceedings of the International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium, pp. 1686-1688, Seattle, Washington, 6-10 July, 1998.