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QuikSCAT/SeaWinds Scatterometer Data Products

Described on this page are the data products derived from the QuikSCAT/SeaWinds Scatterometer observations, which include:

Ocean Surface Wind Vectors of 25Km/12.5Km resolution

The QuikSCAT products of ocean surface winds at 10m height, as processed by NOAA/NESDIS, are retrieved using observation data from NASA/JPL's SeaWinds Scatterometer aboard the QuikSCAT. The empirical retrieval model currently used is referred to as QSCAT1, which relates normalized radar cross-section with wind speed and direction.

Rain can contaminate the wind retrievals, especially in situations with moderate to heavy rain rates. The Multidimensional Histogram (MUDH) rain flag is being used at this time. The wind vector retrievals, thought to be rain contaminated, are colored in black. While not perfect, the MUDH rain flag appears to mark many of the suspect vectors in regions of probable precipitation, epecially in the tropical latitudes.

For closer examination of the wind fields, a data image is further divided into 30x20 (25Km) / 15x10 (12.5Km) degree bins between latitudes 80N to 80S and longitudes 180W to 180E, providing a HTML link map for the specific regions of interest. Just click on the desired geographical location and hopefully a closer look will be provided.

The data images may contain data up to 22 hours previous from update time. Click here for the ocean surface winds from the near real-time (NRT) observation data. Please read the product release notes and this note concerning the near real-time QuikSCAT wind products.

Details of orbit data files that go into the plots can be found here.

For additional information about SeaWinds or QuikSCAT, please visit JPL's Scatterometer web site.

QuikSCAT Storm Data

The storm centered imagery presented on this page are generated based on storm center files provided by NRL(Naval Research Laboratory at Monterey). These files are updated whenever new information about active storms become available, and the imagery is updated shortly after reciept of these files.

QuikSCAT is a polar orbiting satellite with an 1800 km wide measurement swath on the earth's surface. Generally, this results in twice per day coverage over a given geographic region. Wind retrievals are done on a 25km x 25km spatial scale. For additional QuikSCAT information please visit

The ambiguity image plots all the ambiguities resulting from the wind retrieval process, with 4 being the maximum number of ambiguities. The NRCS, (Normalized Radar Cross-Section or Sigma0) link brings up a listing of recent NRCS images. The NRCS images shown here are gridded into an approximately 3 km grid in latitude and longitude. Currently only vertical polarization from the forward look is being shown. In the NRCS images, brighter means higher backscattered power levels, which in ocean scenes generally implies increased small scale (~2-5cm) roughness on the surface.

The hypothesis is that the NRCS images will prove useful in certain situations in locating features, such as storm centers, on the ocean surface. Especially in cases where the wind vector retrievals are inconclusive. There may be information in these images which will require experience in fully exploiting. Any feedback on these images would be appreciated.

Details about these and other enhanced resolution scatterometer image products can be found at the: NASA Scatterometer Climate Record Pathfinder Project Homepage

Comments and suggestions are welcome.

QuikSCAT Ice Data

The daily ice image products are generated from SeaWinds NRT Level 1B sigma0 data which are operationally generated at NOAA NESDIS. The images are produced using software that was developed as part of the NASA Scatterometer Climate Record Pathfinder Project.

The data product contains the most recent images covering the Antarctic, the Arctic, the Ross Ice Shelf, South Georgia Island and the Weddell Sea. The Antarctic and Arctic products typically span a 24-hour data period, while the other regions span a 38-hour period.

The coverage may vary due to delays in data availability or rev reprocessing. Current products include the h-pol average, the h-pol SIR(Scatterometer Image Reconstruction) and the ocean-masked image.

Details about these and other scatterometer image products can be found at the: NASA Scatterometer Climate Record Pathfinder Project Homepage

For current Antarctic large iceberg positions derived from QuikSCAT click here

Data, algorithms, and images presented on STAR websites are intended for experimental use only and are not supported on an operational basis. Disclaimer details

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Site owner: STARContact webmaster • Revised: 27 February 2013 5:02 PM