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Sensors 2008, 8(8), 4894-4914; doi:10.3390/s8084894
Article

SAR Observation and Modeling of Gap Winds in the Prince William Sound of Alaska

1,* , 1,2
 and 1,2
1 Alaska Experimental Forecast Facility, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2811 Merrill Field Dr, Anchorage, Alaska 99508, USA 2 Alaska State Climate Center, Environmental and Natural Resources Institute, University of Alaska Anchorage, Alaska 99508, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 12 July 2008 / Revised: 19 August 2008 / Accepted: 20 August 2008 / Published: 22 August 2008
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR))
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Abstract

Alaska’s Prince William Sound (PWS) is a unique locale tending to have strong gap winds, especially in the winter season. To characterize and understand these strong surface winds, which have great impacts on the local marine and aviation activities, the surface wind retrieval from the Synthetic Aperture Radar data (SAR-wind) is combined with a numerical mesoscale model. Helped with the SAR-wind observations, the mesoscale model is used to study cases of strong winds and relatively weak winds to depict the nature of these winds, including the area of extent and possible causes of the wind regimes. The gap winds from the Wells Passage and the Valdez Arm are the most dominant gap winds in PWS. Though the Valdez Arm is north-south trending and Wells Passage is east-west oriented, gap winds often develop simultaneously in these two places when a low pressure system is present in the Northern Gulf of Alaska. These two gap winds often converge at the center of PWS and extend further out of the Sound through the Hinchinbrook Entrance. The pressure gradients imposed over these areas are the main driving forces for these gap winds. Additionally, the drainage from the upper stream glaciers and the blocking effect of the banks of the Valdez Arm probably play an important role in enhancing the gap wind.
Keywords: SAR; model; gap wind; barrier; Alaska. SAR; model; gap wind; barrier; Alaska.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Liu, H.; Olsson, P.Q.; Volz, K. SAR Observation and Modeling of Gap Winds in the Prince William Sound of Alaska. Sensors 2008, 8, 4894-4914.

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