Impact of Saharan Dust on Ocean Surface Wind Speed Derived by Microwave Satellite Sensors

  • Thomas Ohde


In the present paper ground truth and remotely sensed datasets were used for the investigation and quantification of the impact of Saharan dust on microwave propagation, the verification of theoretical results, and the validation of wind speeds determined by satellite microwave sensors. The influence of atmospheric dust was verified in two different study areas by investigations of single dust storms, wind statistics, wind speed scatter plots divided by the strength of Saharan dust storms, and wind speed differences in dependence of microwave frequencies and dust component of aerosol optical depth. An increase of the deviations of satellite wind speeds to ground truth wind speeds with higher microwave frequencies, with stronger dust storms, and with higher amount of coarse dust aerosols in coastal regions was obtained. Strong Saharan dust storms in coastal areas caused mean relative errors in the determination of wind speed by satellite microwave sensors of 16.3% at 10.7 GHz and of 20.3% at 37 GHz. The mean relative errors were smaller in the open sea area with 3.7% at 10.7 GHz and with 11.9% at 37 GHz.


Ocean surface wind speed Saharan dust METAR QuikSCAT TMI MODIS MERIS 



The author thanks the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research for support of this investigation. METAR - Data are provided by NCAR/EOL under sponsorship of the National Science Foundation (

QuikSCAT and TMI data are produced by Remote Sensing Systems and sponsored by the NASA Ocean Vector Winds Science Team as well as by the NASA Earth Science REASON DISCOVER Project. The data are available at

The MODIS aerosol data were provided by NASA’s Giovanni, an online data visualization and analysis tool maintained by the Goddard Earth Sciences (GES) Data and Information Services Center (DISC), a part of the NASA Earth-Sun System Division (

The MODIS RGB images were taken from MODIS Rapid Response Project (

This research was based on MERIS RGB images provided by ESA (European Space Agency). MERIS data are available from MERCI system (

Many thanks for helpful comments on the manuscript to the anonymous reviewers.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea ResearchWarnemündeGermany

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