Correlation between Synthetic Aperture Radar Surface Winds and Deep Water Velocity in the Amundsen Sea, Antarctica
Journal article, 2013

The recent observed thinning of the glacier ice shelves in the Amundsen Sea (Antarctica) has been attributed to warm deep currents, possibly induced by along-coast winds in the vicinity of the glacial ice sheet. Here, high resolution maps of wind fields derived from Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data have been studied and correlated with subsurface measurements of the deep water velocities in the Amundsen Sea area. Focus is on periods with low ice coverage in 2010 and 2011. In 2010, which had comparatively low ice coverage, the results indicate a more rapid response to wind forcing in the deep currents than in 2011. The SAR wind speed maps have better spatial resolution than available reanalysis data, and higher maximum correlation was obtained with SAR data than with reanalysis data despite the lower temporal resolution. The maximum correlation was R = 0.71, in a direction that is consistent with wind-driven Ekman theory. This is significantly larger than in previous studies. The larger correlation could be due to the better spatial resolution or the restriction to months with minimum ice coverage. The results indicate that SAR is a useful complement to infer the subsurface variability of the ocean circulation in remote areas in polar oceans.

Synthetic Aperture Radar

Amundsen Sea

Envisat ASAR


surface wind

deep water velocity

ERA interim


Gisela Carvajal

Chalmers, Earth and Space Sciences, Radar Remote Sensing

Anna Wåhlin

University of Gothenburg

Leif Eriksson

Chalmers, Earth and Space Sciences, Radar Remote Sensing

Lars Ulander

Chalmers, Earth and Space Sciences, Radar Remote Sensing

Remote Sensing

2072-4292 (ISSN)

Vol. 5 8 4088-4106

Areas of Advance


Life Science Engineering (2010-2018)

Subject Categories

Remote Sensing

Ocean and River Engineering

Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources


Basic sciences



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