Science Meetings

Three Years of Aquarius Salinity Measurements: Algorithm, Validation and Applications
Meissner, T., Wentz, F.J., Smith, D.K., Le Vine, D., and Lagerloef, G. (07-Jan-15)

Aquarius is an L-band radiometer/scatterometer (i.e. active/passive) system designed to provide monthly salinity maps at 150 km spatial scale to an accuracy of 0.2 psu. The sensor was launched on June 10, 2011 as part of the Aquarius/SAC-D mission and has been collecting data since August 25, 2011. Version 3 of the data product was released in June 2014 and provides a major milestone towards reaching the mission requirement of 0.2 psu. This presentation reports the status of the Aquarius salinity retrieval algorithm highlighting the advances that have been made for and since the Version 3 release. The most important ones are: 1) An improved surface roughness correction that is based on Aquarius scatterometer observations; 2) A reduction in ascending/descending differences due to galactic background radiation reflected from the ocean surface; 3) A refinement of the quality control flags and masks that indicate degradation under certain environmental conditions. The Aquarius salinity algorithm also retrieves wind speed as part of the roughness correction with an accuracy comparable to the products from other satellites such as WindSat, SSMIS, ASCAT, and QuikSCAT. Validation of the salinity retrievals is accomplished using measurements from ARGO drifters measuring at 5 m depth and in the tropics also from moored buoys measuring at 1 m depth which are co-located with the nearest Aquarius footprint. In the most recent work an effort has also been made to identify areas with frequent rain to isolate potential issues with rain freshening in the upper ocean layer. Results in rain-free regions indicate that on monthly basis and 150 km grid, the V3 Aquarius salinity maps have an accuracy of about 0.13 psu in the tropics and 0.22 psu globally. Comparing Aquarius with ARGO and moored buoy salinity measurements during and after rain events permits a quantitative assessment of the effect of salinity stratification within the first 5 m of the upper ocean layer.