A global climatology of surface wind and wind stress fields from 8 years of QuikSCAT scatterometer data

C.M. Risien and D.B. Chelton
Global seasonal cycles of the wind and wind stress fields estimated from the 8-year record (September 1999 - August 2007) of wind measurements by the NASA QuikSCAT scatterometer are presented. While this atlas, referred to here as the Scatterometer Climatology of Ocean Winds (SCOW), consists of twelve variables, we focus here on the wind stress and wind stress derivative (curl and divergence) fields. SCOW seasonal cycles are compared with seasonal cycles estimated from NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis wind fields. These comparisons show that the SCOW atlas is able to capture small-scale features that are dynamically important to both the ocean and the atmosphere, but are not resolved in other observationally based wind atlases or in NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis fields. This is particularly true of the wind stress derivative fields where topographic, SST gradient and ocean current influences on surface winds are plainly visible. Discussions of five example regions are presented to highlight these seasonally varying small-scale features. We expect that the SCOW atlas will prove valuable to researchers conducting hydrographic and modeling studies.

Risien, C.M., and D.B. Chelton, 2008: A Global Climatology of Surface Wind and Wind Stress Fields from Eight Years of QuikSCAT Scatterometer Data. J. Phys. Oceanogr., 38, 2379-2413.