11th Conference on Satellite Meteorology and Oceanography


Cloud-drift and Water Vapor Winds in the Polar Regions from MODIS

Jeffrey R. Key, NOAA/NESDIS/ORA, Madison, WI; and D. Santek, C. S. Velden, and W. P. Menzel

Tropospheric winds play an important role in the energy and mass balances of the polar regions. Mid- and upper-level winds control the horizontal flow of heat and moisture to, from, and within the Arctic and Antarctic. However, no routine measurements of winds are made over the Arctic Ocean and most of the Antarctic continent. While geostationary satellites provide useful wind information in the low and midlatitudes, they are of little use at high latitudes due to poor spatial resolution. Here we present preliminary results from a new project to estimate winds in the polar regions by tracking clouds and water vapor in MODerate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data. The automated procedure that is currently used for geostationary satellite cloud-drift winds has been modified for use with MODIS, taking advantage of MODIS' high spatial resolution (1 km) and its advanced capabilities for surface/cloud discrimination and cloud height determination.

The orbital characteristics that affect wind estimation from polar-orbiting satellites are also discussed. Equatorward of 60 degrees latitude the temporal sampling of the Terra and future Aqua satellites is too sparse to obtain meaningful wind estimates. However, poleward of about 75 degrees the coverage is such that useful wind information can be obtained throughout the course of a day. Estimates of wind speed, direction, and altitude will be shown for a number of case studies in both polar regions. Ultimately, we expect that the assimilation of these satellite-derived wind estimates in coupled ice-atmosphere models will improve our ability to predict changes in the surface energy balance and ice mass.

extended abstract  Extended Abstract (752K)

Poster Session 3, Operational Applications
Tuesday, 16 October 2001, 9:15 AM-11:00 AM

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