Synergy of wind wave model simulations and satellite observations during extreme events


In this study, the quality of wave data provided by the new Sentinel-3A satellite is evaluated and the sensitivity of the wave model to wind forcing is tested. We focus on coastal areas, where altimeter data are of lower quality and wave modelling is more complex than for the open ocean. In the first part of the study, the sensitivity of the wave model to wind forcing is evaluated using data with different temporal and spatial resolution, such as ERA-Interim and ERA5 reanalyses, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) operational analysis and short-range forecasts, German Weather Service (DWD) forecasts and regional atmospheric model simulations (coastDat). Numerical simulations show that the wave model forced using the ERA5 reanalyses and that forced using the ECMWF operational analysis/forecast demonstrate the best capability over the whole study period, as well as during extreme events. To further estimate the variance of the significant wave height of ensemble members for different wind forcings, especially during extreme events, an empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis is performed. In the second part of the study, the satellite data of Sentinel-3A, Jason-2 and CryoSat-2 are assessed in comparison with in situ measurements and spectral wave model (WAM) simulations. Intercomparisons between remote sensing and in situ observations demonstrate that the overall quality of the former is good over the North Sea and Baltic Sea throughout the study period, although the significant wave heights estimated based on satellite data tend to be greater than the in situ measurements by 7 to 26 cm. The quality of all satellite data near the coastal area decreases; however, within 10 km off the coast, Sentinel-3A performs better than the other two satellites. Analyses in which data from satellite tracks are separated in terms of onshore and offshore flights have been carried out. No substantial differences are found when comparing the statistics for onshore and offshore flights. Moreover, no substantial differences are found between satellite tracks under various metocean conditions. Furthermore, the satellite data quality does not depend on the wind direction relative to the flight direction. Thus, the quality of the data obtained by the new Sentinel-3A satellite over coastal areas is improved compared to that of older satellites.
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