Development of a modified two-scale electromagnetic model simulating both active and passive microwave measurements: Comparison to data remotely sensed over the ocean



[1] Spaceborne microwave remote sensing allows the determination of oceanic and atmospheric parameters. Operational payloads such as ERS-1 and ERS-2 and TOPEX/Poseidon as well as missions such as Jason (from NASA–Centre National d'Etudes) or Envisat (from the European Space Agency), have contained or contain paired microwave instruments looking at the nadir direction. This combination consists of microwave radiometers and a radar-altimeter. For the frequencies chosen in oceanographic satellite payloads, the active mode signal is mostly dependent on the surface state through its reflectivity and thus used for the near-surface wind speed retrieval. The active mode can also be attenuated by the atmosphere. On the other hand, the passive mode is related to the surface emissivity and the atmospheric radiation through the radiative transfer equation. Until now, the oceanic and atmospheric parameters have been retrieved separately, the latter being used to correct radar measurements. However, the reflectivity and the emissivity of a target are not independent quantities; hence the synergistic use of these two kinds of microwave measurements should allow one to improve the retrieval quality of the sea and atmosphere parameters. For this purpose, a unified model has been developed for the simulation of both the microwave backscattering coefficient σ° (active measurement) and the microwave emissivity, an important factor for the brightness temperature TB simulation, for every configuration (incidence angles, frequency, polarizations), taking into account the fact that the reflectivity and the emissivity are complementary to unity. The atmospheric absorption is computed following a widely used model from the literature. This paper gives a description and a first attempt of validation of this approach through a comparison with real data. The performance of the model is assessed by comparing the simulations to both brightness temperatures and backscattering coefficients from ERS-1 and TOPEX/Poseidon's instruments during the SEMAPHORE experiment, over a two-month period.