Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 13, Issue 1–4, pp 277–293 | Cite as

A review of applications of microwave radiometry to oceanography

  • Thomas T. WilheitJr.


The thermal microwave radiation from the ocean surface as seen from space is a function of the surface temperature and wind speed and is modified by liquid water and water vapor in the intervening atmosphere. Further, if the ocean surface is frozen, the emissivity is drastically increased and the effect of the intervening atmosphere is generally negligible. The emissivity of first-year ice is somewhat larger than that of multi-year ice.

The data from the Electrically Scanning Microwave Radiometers (ESMR's) on the Nimbus-5 and —6 satellites operating at wavelengths of 1.55 cm and 8 mm, respectively, can be interpreted in terms of rain rate, ice coverage and first-year versus multi-year ice determination. The rain-rate data are being used to establish a climatology of rainfall over the oceans. The ice data are being used by the United States Navy in support of international scientific efforts in the Antactic region. Both ice and rain data sets have been generated for the Global Atmospheric Research Project Data Systems Test.

It is possible, by making multifrequency measurements, to separate the surface and atmospheric effects and to make useful measurements of sea surface temperature, surface wind speed, and atmospheric parameters along with improved measurements of rain and ice.


Emissivity Rain Rate Surface Wind Speed Microwave Radiometer Scan Microwave 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas T. WilheitJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.NASA-Goddard Space Flight CenterGreenbeltUSA

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