Wind direction is required as input to the geophysical model function (GMF) for the retrieval of sea surface wind speed from a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images. The present study verifies the effectiveness of using the wind direction obtained from the weather research and forecasting model (WMF) as input to the GMF to retrieve accurate wind fields in coastal waters adjacent to complex onshore terrain. The wind speeds retrieved from 42 ENVISAT ASAR images are validated based on in situ measurements at an offshore platform in Japan. Accuracies are also compared with cases using wind directions: the meso-analysis of the Japan Meteorological Agency (MANAL), the SeaWinds microwave scatterometer on QuikSCAT and the National Center for Environmental Prediction final operational global analysis data (NCEP FNL).
In comparison with the errors of the SAR-retrieved wind speeds obtained using the WRF, MANAL, QuikSCAT and NCEP FNL wind directions, the magnitudes of the errors do not appear to be correlated with the errors of the wind directions themselves. In addition to wind direction, terrain factors are considered to be a main source of error other than wind direction. Focusing on onshore winds (blowing from the sea to land), the root mean square errors on wind speed are found to be 0.75 m s − 1 (in situ), 0.96 m s − 1 (WRF), 1.75 m s − 1 (MANAL), 1.58 m s − 1 (QuikSCAT) and 2.00 m s − 1 (NCEP FNL), respectively, but the uncertainty is of the same order of magnitude because of the low number of cases. These results indicate that although the effectiveness of using the accurate WRF wind direction for the wind retrieval is partly confirmed, further efforts to remove the error due to factors other than wind direction are necessary for more accurate wind retrieval in coastal waters. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.