THE CEOS DATABASE : Missions, Instruments and Measurements
ESSENTIAL CLIMATE VARIABLE - Wind speed and direction
DomainAtmosphericDescriptionSurface wind has substantial influence on the exchanges of momentum, heat, moisture and trace species between the atmosphere and the underlying ocean and land. It drives ocean waves, storm surges and sea-ice, and provides a key forcing of the ocean circulation that is responsible for the global transport of important amounts of heat and carbon. It is a sensitive indicator of the state of the global coupled climate system and knowledge of it is important for understanding climate variability and change, and for climate model evaluation. Data on surface wind have direct application to sectors such as transport, construction, energy production, human health, marine safety and emergency management. They are also used in metrics that characterise the strength of tropical cyclones. [GCOS-195 4.3.2]
Full NameWind speed and direction
Satellite Signficant ContributionYes
GCOS Actions
DescriptionWhoTime FramePerformance IndicatorCost Implications
Ensure continuous generation of wind-related products from AM and PM satellite scatterometers or equivalent observations.Space agenciesContiniousLong-term satellite observations of surface winds every six hours1-10M US$ (Mainly by Annex-I Parties)
*GCOS-195 Status Categories: Category A: Action completed, perhaps exceeding reasonable expectations. Very good progress on ongoing tasks. Category B: Action largely completed according to expectation. Good progress on ongoing tasks. Category C: Moderate progress overall, although progress may be good for some part of the action. Category D: Limited progress overall, although progress may be moderate or good for some part of the action. Category E: Very little or no progress, or deterioration rather than progress.
GCOS Products
Related Measurements/
from CEOS DB
A.1Surface Wind RetrievalsSurface Wind
Wind speed over land surface (horizontal)
Wind speed over sea surface (horizontal)
Wind vector over land surface (horizontal)
Wind vector over sea surface (horizontal)
CEOS Response[A11 (A.1)]

2015 Update: NASA’s International Space Station Rapid Scatterometer, or ISS–RapidScat, is the first near-global scientific Earth-observing climate instrument specifically designed and developed to operate from the exterior of the space station. The experimental mission will measure near-surface ocean wind speed and direction in Earth’s low and mid-latitudes in any kind of weather except heavy rain. ISS- RapidScat joins in orbit the EUMETSAT ASCAT, which is in morning polar orbit as of April 2015. Calibration and validation activities as well as data acess activities are being coordinated by the CEOS ocean surface vector wind virtual constellation (OSVW-VC - Space agency plans for ocean surface vector wind instrument frequency coverage and spatial sampling are shown below.

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