Global Whitecap Coverage from Satellite Remote Sensing and Wave Modelling



For decades, photographic measurements of whitecap coverage W have been the workhorse for characterizing oceanic whitecaps and parameterizing air-sea processes associated with them. The detail that in situ W data provide is now complemented with the possibilities offered by long-term, consistent determination of W on a global scale from passive microwave remote sensing and from third generation wave modelling. This chapter gives an overview of the development and present status of obtaining the whitecap fraction with remote sensing and wave models.



I am deeply grateful to Peter W. Gaiser and Richard M. Bevilacqua for unwavering support in pursuing passive remote sensing of whitecaps at Remote Sensing Division, NRL. The significant contributions of Michael H. Bettenhausen and William F. Johnston in developing the WindSat forward model and producing the WindSat data is acknowledged and highly appreciated. Credit is due to W. Erick Rogers for his work on the wave modeling. This work was sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (NRL program element 61153 N).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Remote Sensing Division, Naval Research LaboratoryWashingtonUSA

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