Scatterometers uniquely define the mesoscale wind vector field at the sea surface by measuring the radar backscatter signal from wind-generated cm-sized, so-called gravity-capillary sea waves. Because of the wavelength (5 cm), the signal of ASCAT is not affected by rain, and is therefore an "all-weather" system.
The all-weather capability of the ASCAT scatterometer provides unique wind field products of the most intense and often cloud-covered wind phenomena, such as polar front disturbances and tropical cyclones. As such, it has been demonstrated that scatterometer winds are extremely useful in the prediction of extra-tropical and tropical cyclone). Moreover, high-resolution near-surface winds as provided by scatterometers are very relevant because these winds drive the ocean water circulation, which in turn plays a major role in the climate system and in marine life and its exploitation (e.g., fishery).
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