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How satellite data can help surge modelling and forecasting

There are several ways in which satellite data could be used to improve storm surge forecasting:

  • Most basically, visible and infrared satellite images can be used to track the progress of storms and estimate their landfall location. They can also be used to assess the degree of innundation after an event, both to support recovery efforts and to assess the performance of the models used.

  • TWLE can be measured by satellite altimetry instruments. In many areas with limited infrastructure, this is the only feasible way to consistently measure this parameter. However most satellite altimetry techniques have been developed to measure Sea Surface Height (SSH) in the open ocean, and some work still needs to be done for extending these measurements to the coast. This will be a critical task for the eSurge project.

  • SAR data can be used to measure wind speeds, both in the coastal zone and in the open ocean where no in-situ measurements are possible.

  • Sea Surface Temperature (SST) data can be used to estimate the intensity of a storm.

Two separate views of Hurricane Katrina acquired 28 August 2005 from instruments aboard Envisat. The ASAR Wide Swath mode radar image of the sea surface shows how Katrina's wind fields are rippling the ocean. Beside it is the MERIS Reduced Resolution mode optical images showing characteristic swirling cloud patterns around the central eye, with the eye walls visible.

Picture: ESA.




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