Global wind speed and wave height extremes derived from long-duration satellite records
Peer reviewed, Journal article
MetadataShow full item record
- Geophysical Institute 
The application of extreme-value analysis to long-duration (30 year) global altimeter and radiometer datasets is considered. In contrast to previous extreme-value analyses of satellite data, the dataset is sufficiently long to enable a peaks over threshold analysis to be undertaken. When applied to altimeter data for wind speed and significant wave height, this analysis produces values consistent with buoy validation data and previous numerical model reanalysis datasets. The spatial distributions produced are also consistent with the model reanalysis data. However, the altimeter data shows much greater finescale structure for wind speed, which is consistent with known tropical cyclone activity. The greater data density provided by radiometer measurements offers the potential to address altimeter undersampling. However, issues associated with the radiometer’s inability to measure wind speed in heavy rain events appears to create an unacceptable “fair weather” bias at extreme wind speeds. This renders the radiometer data of wind speed largely unusable for the investigation of wind speed extremes. The study also clearly demonstrates the limitations of the initial distribution method for extreme-value analysis, which is heavily biased by mean conditions.