Wind Retrieval from Constellations of Small SAR Satellites: Potential for Offshore Wind Resource Assessment

Merete Badger*, Aito Fujita, Krzysztof Orzel, Daniel Hatfield, Mark Kelly

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

24 Downloads (Pure)


The planning of offshore wind energy projects requires wind observations over long periods for the establishment of wind speed distributions. In the marine environment, high-quality in situ observations are sparse and restricted to point locations. Numerical modeling is typically used to determine the spatial variability of the wind resource. Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) observations from satellites can be used for retrieval of wind fields over the ocean at a high spatial resolution. The recent launch of constellations of small SAR satellites by private companies will improve the sampling of SAR scenes significantly over the coming years compared with the current sampling rates offered by multi-purpose SAR missions operated by public space agencies. For the first time, wind fields are retrieved from a series of StriX SAR scenes delivered by Synspective (Japan) and also from Sentinel-1 scenes delivered by the European Space Agency. The satellite winds are compared with wind speed observations from the FINO3 mast in the North Sea. This leads to root-mean-square errors of 1.4–1.8 m s-1 and negative biases of −0.4 m s-1 and −1.0 m s-1, respectively. Although the Geophysical Model Functions (GMF) applied for wind retrievals have not yet been tuned for StriX SAR observations, the wind speed accuracy is satisfactory. Through conditional sampling, we estimate the wind resource from current and future SAR sampling scenarios where the number of SAR satellites in orbit is increasing over time. We find that hourly samples are needed to fully capture the diurnal wind speed variability at the site investigated. A combination of SAR samples from current missions with samples from clusters of small SAR satellites can yield the necessary number of wind speed samples for accurate wind resource estimation. This is particularly important for sites with pronounced diurnal wind speed variability. An additional benefit of small SAR satellites is that wind speed variability can be mapped at the sub-km scale. The very high spatial resolution is valuable for characterizing the wind conditions in the vicinity of existing offshore wind farms.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3819
Issue number9
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Wind energy
  • Resource assessment
  • Offshore
  • Wind retrieval
  • Synthetic aperture radar (SAR)
  • Satellite
  • Sampling
  • North Sea
  • FINO3


Dive into the research topics of 'Wind Retrieval from Constellations of Small SAR Satellites: Potential for Offshore Wind Resource Assessment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this