Oceanographic satellites have now been in operation for almost 30 years, collecting global data on oceanic winds and waves. During this period, a variety of satellites have been operational. These include altimeters (wind speed and wave height), SSMI radiometers (wind speed), scatterometers (wind speed and direction) and Synthetic Aperture Radar, SAR (full directional wave spectrum). Data from these instruments potentially represents an invaluable resource for offshore engineering design and facilities operation. This paper describes the development of a unique database containing data from all these instruments over their full periods of operation. The paper will describe the calibration and cross-validation of all instruments. This analysis shows the limitations of individual instruments and the relative accuracies. Instruments are calibrated against a very comprehensive buoy data set from the United States, Canada, UK, France, Spain, Australia and New Zealand. The extensive buoy dataset means that it is possible to have individual calibration buoys and independent validation sites. Further validation is provided by examining cross-over points between different satellite instruments where they image the same region of ocean at the same time.
The paper will also demonstrate the application of this database. These applications include the evaluation of seasonal wind and wave climate on a global scale, the determination of extreme value statistics (100 year return values) for wind speed and wave height, long term trends in wind speed and wave height and potential trends in extreme values.