Radio Science

Issues concerning the sea emissivity modeling at L band for retrieving surface salinity



[1] In order to prepare the sea surface salinity (SSS) retrieval in the frame of the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission we conduct sensitivity studies to quantify uncertainties on simulated brightness temperatures (Tb) related to uncertainties on sea surface and scattering modeling. Using a two-scale sea surface emissivity model to simulate Tb at L band (1.4 GHz), we explore the influence on estimated SSS of the parameterization of the seawater permittivity, of the sea wave spectrum, of the choice of the two-scale cutoff wavelength, and of adding swell to the wind sea. Differences between Tb estimated with various existing permittivity models are up to 1.5 K. Therefore a better knowledge of the seawater permittivity at L band is required. The influence of wind speed on Tb simulated with various parameterizations of the sea wave spectrum differs by up to a factor of two; for a wind speed of 7 m s−1 the differences on estimated SSS is several psu depending on the sea wave spectral model taken, so that sea spectrum is a major source of uncertainty in models. We find no noticeable effect on simulated Tb when changing the two-scale cutoff wavelength and when adding swell to the wind sea for low to moderate incidence angles. The dependence of the wind-induced Tb on SST and SSS being weak, we assess the error in SSS estimated assuming that the wind speed influence is independent of SST and SSS. We find errors on estimated SSS up to 0.5 psu for 20°C variation in SST. Therefore this assumption would induce regional biases when applied to global measurements.