Articles | Volume 14, issue 3
Ocean Sci., 14, 337–354, 2018
Ocean Sci., 14, 337–354, 2018

Research article 15 May 2018

Research article | 15 May 2018

Measuring currents, ice drift, and waves from space: the Sea surface KInematics Multiscale monitoring (SKIM) concept

Fabrice Ardhuin1, Yevgueny Aksenov2, Alvise Benetazzo3, Laurent Bertino4, Peter Brandt5, Eric Caubet6, Bertrand Chapron1, Fabrice Collard7, Sophie Cravatte8, Jean-Marc Delouis1, Frederic Dias9, Gérald Dibarboure10, Lucile Gaultier7, Johnny Johannessen4, Anton Korosov4, Georgy Manucharyan11, Dimitris Menemenlis12, Melisa Menendez13, Goulven Monnier14, Alexis Mouche1, Frédéric Nouguier1, George Nurser2, Pierre Rampal4, Ad Reniers15, Ernesto Rodriguez12, Justin Stopa1, Céline Tison10, Clément Ubelmann15, Erik van Sebille16, and Jiping Xie4 Fabrice Ardhuin et al.
  • 1Laboratoire d'Océanographie Physique et Spatiale (LOPS), Univ. Brest, CNRS, Ifremer, IRD, Brest, France
  • 2National Oceanographic Center, Southampton, SO14 3ZH, UK
  • 3Institute of Marine Sciences, National Research Council (ISMAR-CNR), Venice, Italy
  • 4Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center, Bergen, Norway
  • 5GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Kiel, Germany
  • 6Thales Alenia Space, Toulouse, France
  • 7OceanDataLab, 870 Route de Deolen, 29280 Locmaria Plouzané, France
  • 8LEGOS, Université de Toulouse, CNES, CNRS, IRD, Toulouse, France
  • 9University College, Dublin, Ireland
  • 10CNES, 18 avenue Edouard Belin, 31400 Toulouse, France
  • 11Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA
  • 12Earth Sciences Division, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA
  • 13Environmental Hydraulics Institute “IH Cantabria” Universidad de Cantabria, Santander, Spain
  • 14Scalian Alyotech, 2 rue Antoine Becquerel, 35700 Rennes, France
  • 15Collecte Localisation Satellite (CLS), 8–10 Rue Hermes, 31520 Ramonville St-Agne, France
  • 16Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands

Abstract. We propose a satellite mission that uses a near-nadir Ka-band Doppler radar to measure surface currents, ice drift and ocean waves at spatial scales of 40 km and more, with snapshots at least every day for latitudes 75 to 82°, and every few days for other latitudes. The use of incidence angles of 6 and 12° allows for measurement of the directional wave spectrum, which yields accurate corrections of the wave-induced bias in the current measurements. The instrument's design, an algorithm for current vector retrieval and the expected mission performance are presented here. The instrument proposed can reveal features of tropical ocean and marginal ice zone (MIZ) dynamics that are inaccessible to other measurement systems, and providing global monitoring of the ocean mesoscale that surpasses the capability of today's nadir altimeters. Measuring ocean wave properties has many applications, including examining wave–current interactions, air–sea fluxes, the transport and convergence of marine plastic debris and assessment of marine and coastal hazards.

Short summary
The Sea surface KInematics Multiscale (SKIM) monitoring mission is a proposal for a future satellite that is designed to measure ocean currents and waves. Using a Doppler radar, the accurate measurement of currents requires the removal of the mean velocity due to ocean wave motions. This paper describes the main processing steps needed to produce currents and wave data from the radar measurements. With this technique, SKIM can provide unprecedented coverage and resolution, over the global ocean.