Marine De Carlo

and 3 more

Recent satellite altimeter retracking and filtering methods have considerably reduced the noise level in estimates of the significant wave height (Hs), allowing to study processes with smaller spatial scales. In particular, previous studies have shown that wave-current interactions may explain most of the variability of Hs at scales 20 to 100 km. As the spatial scale of the measurement is reduced, random fluctuations emerge that should be associated to wave groups. Here we quantify the magnitude of this effect, and the contribution of wave groups to the uncertainty in Hs measurements by altimeters, with a particular focus on extreme extra-tropical storms. We take advantage of the low orbit altitude of the China-France Ocean Satellite (CFOSAT), and the low noise level of the nadir beam of the SWIM instrument. Our estimate of wave group effects uses directional wave spectra measured by off-nadir beams on SWIM and signal processing theory that gives statistical properties of the wave envelope, and thus the local wave heights, from the shape of the wave spectrum. We find that the standard deviation of Hs associated to wave groups is a function of satellite altitude, wave height and spectral bandwidth. For CFOSAT these fluctuations generally account for about 25% of the variance measured over a 80 km distance. This fraction is largest in storms and in the presence of long swells. When the estimated effect of wave groups is subtracted from the measured Hs variance, the remaining variability is higher in regions of strong currents.

Matias Alday

and 3 more

Fabrice Ardhuin

and 6 more

Fabrice Ardhuin

and 2 more

The Total Surface Current Velocity (TSCV) - the horizontal vector quantity that advects seawater - is an Essential Climate Variable, with few observations available today. The TSCV can be derived from the phase speed of surface gravity waves, and the estimates of the phase speeds of different wavelengths could give a measure of the vertical shear. Here we combine 10-m resolution Level-1C of the Sentinel 2 Multispectral Instrument, acquired with time lags up to 1s, and numerical simulation of these images. Retrieving the near surface shear requires a specific attention to waves in opposing direction when estimating a single phase speed from the phase difference in an image pair. Opposing waves lead to errors in phase speeds that are most frequent for shorter wavelengths. We propose an alternative method using a least-square fit of the current speed and amplitudes of waves in opposing directions to the observed complex amplitudes of a sequence of 3 images. When applied to Sentinel 2, this method generally provides more moisy estimate of the current. A byproduct of this analysis is the “opposition spectrum” that is a key quantity in the sources of microseisms and microbaroms. For future possible sensors, the retrieval of TSCV and shear can benefit from increased time lags, resolution and exposure time of acquisition. These findings should allow new investigations of near-surface ocean processes including regions of freshwater influence or internal waves, using existing satellite missions such as Sentinel 2, and provide a basis for the design of future optical instruments.

Gwendal Marechal

and 1 more

Advances in the understanding and modelling of surface currents have revealed the importance of mesoscale and submesoscale features. These features should have a large influence on wind waves, and in particular wave heights are expected to be modified by refraction. Still, the quantitative impact of currents on waves is not well known due to the complexity of the random wave fields and currents that are found in the ocean, and the lack of observations of both currents and waves at scales shorter than 150 km. Here we combine novel satellite altimetry data with phase-averaged numerical wave models forced by wind and surface currents fields, taken from the oceanic model CROCO, run at 2.5km resolution. The influence of the spatial resolution of the current field is investigated using smoothed versions of the same current field. We find that a numerical wave model forced with surface currents with resolutions of 30 km or less and a directional resolution of 7.5 degrees or less, can provide accurate representations of the significant wave height gradients found in the Agulhas current. Using smoother current fields, such as derived from satellite measurements of dynamic height, generally underestimates wave height gradients. Hence, satellite altimetry provides high resolution wave height with a gradient magnitude that is a constraint on surface current gradients, at resolutions that may not be resolved by today's combination of mean dynamic topography and altimeter-derived anomalies. Beyond a demonstration for relatively steady currents, this may apply to time-varying currents if enough wave measurements are available.

Fabrice Collard

and 5 more

Wind-generated waves strongly interact with sea ice and impact air-sea exchanges, operations at sea, and marine life. Unfortunately, the dissipation of wave energy is not well quantified and its possible effect on upper ocean mixing and ice drift are still mysterious. As the Arctic is opening up and wave energy increases, the limited amount of \emph{in situ} observations is a clear limitation to our scientific understanding. Both radar and optical remote sensing has revealed the frequent presence of waves under the ice, and could be used more systematically to investigate wave-ice interactions. Here we show that, in cloud-free conditions, Sentinel-2 images exhibit brightness modulations in ice-covered water, consistent with the presence of waves measured a few hours later by the ICESat-2 laser altimeter. We also show that a full-focus SAR processing of Sentinel-3 radar altimeter data reveals the presence of waves under the ice and their wavelengths, within minutes of Sentinel-2 imagery. The SWIM instrument on CFOSAT is another source of quantitative evidence for the direction and wavelengths of waves under the ice, when ice conditions are spatially homogeneous. In the presence of sea ice, a quantitative wave height measurement method is not yet available for all-weather near-nadir radar instruments such as altimeters and SWIM. However, their systematic co-location with optical instruments on Sentinel-2 and ICESat-2, which are less frequently able to observe waves in sea ice, may provide the empirical transfer functions needed to interpret and calibrate the radar data, greatly expanding the available data on wave-ice interactions.