Science Meetings

The Aquarius Level 2 Algorithm
Meissner, T., Wentz, F.J., Hilburn, K A., Lagerloef, G.S.E., and Le Vine, D.M. (03-Dec-12)

The Aquarius L-band radiometer/scatterometer system is 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, aboard the Argentine CONAE SAC-D spacecraft. The L-band radiometers and the scatterometer have been taking science data observations since August 25, 2011.

This presentation discusses the current state of the Aquarius Level processing algorithm, which transforms radiometer counts ultimately into sea surface salinity (SSS). We focus on several topics that we have investigated since launch:
  1. Updated Pointing. A detailed check of the Aquarius pointing angles was performed, which consists in making adjustments of the two pointing angles, azimuth angle and off-nadir angle, for each horn. It has been found that the necessary adjustments for all 3 horns can be explained by a single offset for the antenna pointing if we introduce a constant offset in the roll angle by - 0.51 deg and the pitch angle by + 0.16 deg.
  2. Antenna Patterns and Instrument Calibration. In March 2012 JPL has produced a set of new antenna patterns using the GRASP software. Compared with the various pre-launch patterns those new patterns lead to an increase in the spillover coefficient by about 1%. We discuss its impact on several components of the Level 2 processing: the antenna pattern correction (APC), the correction for intrusion of galactic and solar radiation that is reflected from the ocean surface into the Aquarius field of view, and the correction of contamination from land surface radiation entering into the sidelobes. We show that the new antenna patterns result in a consistent calibration of all 3 Stokes parameters, which can be best demonstrated during spacecraft pitch maneuvers.
  3. Cross Polarization Couplings of the 3rd Stokes Parameter. Using the APC values for the cross polarization coupling of the 3rd Stokes parameter into the 1st and 2nd Stokes parameter lead to a spurious image of the 3rd Stokes parameter into the SSS and an unwanted bias of the SSS between the ascending and descending part of the swath. We show that in order to remove this effect it is necessary to fine tune the cross polarization coupling of the 3rd Stokes parameter.
  4. Aquarius Wind Speed Retrievals and Impact on Surface Roughness Correction. Backscatter measurements form the Aquarius scatterometer can be combined with radiometer observations to derive an Aquarius wind speed product. We show that if the weights for the various scatterometer and radiometer channels are chosen appropriately, this Aquarius wind speed matches the high performance of the WindSat and SSM/I retrieved wind speed. This results in an RMS accuracy of about 0.7 m/s when comparing with ground truth observations. This is a significant improvement over wind speeds from NCEP which are currently used in the Aquarius L2vel 2 processing and which have an RMS accuracy of about only 1.2 m/s. We discuss the impact of using this improved wind speed product on the Level 2 surface roughness correction and ultimately on the retrieved SSS.