The NASA Scatterometer
Climate Record Pathfinder (SCP) is a NASA sponsored
project to develop scatterometer-based data time series
to support climate studies of the Earth's cryosphere and
biosphere. Originally developed to measure winds over
the ocean from space, scatterometer data has proved to
be very useful in a variety of studies including polar
ice and tropical vegetation. Because the scatterometer
radar signal can penetrate the surface, a scatterometer
can observe subsurface/subcanopy climate-related
The launch of Seasat, carrying a Ku-band scatterometer
(SASS), in 1978 provided a baseline against which
studies of global change can be measured. Other
missions have followed SASS, including the C-band
European Space Agency (ESA) Earth Remote Sensing (ERS)
-1 and -2 missions (1992-2001), the NASA Scatterometer
(NSCAT) mission in 1996-97, SeaWinds on QuikSCAT (1999-2000),
SeaWinds on ADEOS-II/Midori2 (2003), and the ESA Advanced
scatterometer (ASCAT) (2009+). With their rapid
global coverage, day or night and all-weather
operation, scatterometers offer a unique tool for
long-term climate studies. The goal of the SCP is to
provide scatterometer-based datasets to researchers
involved in climate studies.
The SCP datasets are based on a time series of enhanced
resolution images made from the scatterometer
backscatter (sigma0) measurements using the
Scatterometer Image Reconstruction (SIR) and SIR
w/filtering algorithms. For the highest possible spatial
resolution (as well as to ensure full coverage over the
images) multiple orbit passes are combined. For SASS,
NSCAT, ERS, and ASCAT images of sigma0 at 40 deg incidence
angle (A) in dB and the slope of sigma0 versus incidence
angle (B) in dB/deg are made. For SeaWinds and QuikSCAT
sigma0 images at the observation incidence angle are
made. In addition to these images, a number of ancillary
images and products are generated include sea ice extent
maps and sea ice motion data sets. A number of derived
products are provided. SCP images and data products are
designed to support climate studies over land and
ice. Scatterometer data sets are augmented by processed
image data from the TRMM Precipitation
Radar (TRMM-PR), SSM/I, and AMSR-E microwave radiometers.
Products can be selected from Image Data on the navigation bar to the left.
A summary of available products is available here.
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Recent News Updates
3 Apr 2013. A simple python interface to read SIR files is available under the software tab.
15 Feb 2013. After a winter power reduction cycle, QuikSCAT began spinning again for about 10 days before the bearing again got stuck! SCP image products for 29 Jan-6 Feb 2013 have been produced and posted to the SCP web/ftp site.
12 Oct 2012. A new multi-year sea ice map product is now available The method is described in A.M. Swan and D.G. Long, "Multi-Year Arctic Sea Ice Classification Using QuikSCAT", IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Vol. 50, No. 9, pp. 3317-3326, 2012.
2 Oct 2012. Processing of all available AMSR-E data over its full mission has been completed and posted to the SCP site.
30 Sep 2011. A new and complete reprocessing of SSM/I F13 has been completed. The new processing is based on daily local-time-of-day and used the recalibrated version 7 of Remote Sensing Systems F13 SSM/I dataset. The old prototype SSM/I data has been deleted. AMSR-E local-time-of-day enhanced resolution images are available for 2002-2010.
6 Jan 2011. Some problems were found with QuikSCAT ascii ice edge (.ie) files were found on days of incomplete coverage. Some problems with line segmenting were also found in some files. As a result, we have replaced all QuikSCAT ascii ice edge files with improved version. Please discard old versions of these files.
4 Nov 2010. A poster-sized (png format 11 MB) QuikSCAT global image is available from the site.