Anguelova and Webster  demonstrated a method of estimating whitecap coverage from routine satellite measurements. At microwave frequencies, whitecaps appear as regions of enhanced surface emissivity, thus affording the possibility of satellite-retrieval of W through passive radiometric measurements of the ocean surface. The initial retrieval algorithm has since been improved in several respects; notably, the retrieval now makes use of WindSat measurements, and the models for the emissivities are now more physically sound. With satellite retrieval of other important environmental factors such as sea surface temperature, and information about wave conditions from model reanalysis, a global database of W and accompanying measurements has been assembled. The database can be used to quantify the relative importance of these variables, to assess if they should be included in more accurate parameterisation of whitecap coverage.
Here, we discuss the general behaviour of the satellite-derived W estimates, and compare to estimates from wind speed parameterisations formulated from in-situ data. The influence of several variables on whitecap coverage estimates is investigated once the dominant wind speed signal has been removed. We also discuss possible implementation of the satellite retrieval for studies of both SSA production and gas exchange.
Anguelova, M. D., and F. Webster, 2006: Whitecap coverage from satellite measurements: A first step toward modelling the variability of oceanic whitecaps. J. Geophys. Res., 111, C03017.