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Table 7

Characteristics of upper-ocean turbulence relevant to sea-air fluxes that can be derived from active satellite sensors, current and planned. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/elementa.331.t7

Interface geophysical parameters/propertiesCurrent capabilitiesFuture capabilities

 
Sea surface wind Wind speed, direction, and stress (good accuracy from 0 to 20 m s–1);
multiplatform daily global coverage only for scatterometry;
higher spatial resolution (lower coverage) for SAR and lidar 
Improved estimates at very high wind speed (e.g., typhoons), improved geophysical models to solve ambiguities, better coverage with higher spatial resolution, and better accuracy in coastal regions 
Waves Significant height and direction of gravity waves (altimetry and polarised SAR) and internal waves (SAR) Improved accuracy over coastal regions, improved coverage of higher spatial resolution products (e.g., SWOT, SAR, and lidar missions) 
Currents Speed and direction of geostrophic currents (global coverage with multiplatform altimetry missions) Higher spatial-temporal resolution, submesoscale currents in open ocean and coastal regions 
Surface slicks Feature detection (size, shape) (SAR) Type of surfactant, concentration, thickness (SAR and optical sensors) 
Ship wakes Feature detection (SAR) Vertical profile (lidar) 
Sea surface roughness Wave slope variance (capillary waves) (all active sensors) Improved wave slope estimates to account for bulk interface properties and sea-state condition 
Whitecaps (foam and bubbles) Feature detection (SAR and lidar) or estimate of whitecap fraction from wind speed Increased accuracy (detection, duration and type-source), spatial coverage and resolution, vertical profile (lidar) 
Interface geophysical parameters/propertiesCurrent capabilitiesFuture capabilities

 
Sea surface wind Wind speed, direction, and stress (good accuracy from 0 to 20 m s–1);
multiplatform daily global coverage only for scatterometry;
higher spatial resolution (lower coverage) for SAR and lidar 
Improved estimates at very high wind speed (e.g., typhoons), improved geophysical models to solve ambiguities, better coverage with higher spatial resolution, and better accuracy in coastal regions 
Waves Significant height and direction of gravity waves (altimetry and polarised SAR) and internal waves (SAR) Improved accuracy over coastal regions, improved coverage of higher spatial resolution products (e.g., SWOT, SAR, and lidar missions) 
Currents Speed and direction of geostrophic currents (global coverage with multiplatform altimetry missions) Higher spatial-temporal resolution, submesoscale currents in open ocean and coastal regions 
Surface slicks Feature detection (size, shape) (SAR) Type of surfactant, concentration, thickness (SAR and optical sensors) 
Ship wakes Feature detection (SAR) Vertical profile (lidar) 
Sea surface roughness Wave slope variance (capillary waves) (all active sensors) Improved wave slope estimates to account for bulk interface properties and sea-state condition 
Whitecaps (foam and bubbles) Feature detection (SAR and lidar) or estimate of whitecap fraction from wind speed Increased accuracy (detection, duration and type-source), spatial coverage and resolution, vertical profile (lidar) 
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