This video is adapted from 10.3390/rs14061348
Global joint measurements of sea surface winds and currents are planned using satellite-based Doppler scatterometers operating in the Ka-band to achieve improved spatial resolution and retrieval accuracy. Still, the knowledge of sea surface Ka-band backscatter properties is poor, particularly, at high winds (>20 m/s). Sea surface radar cross-section in the Ka-band, in contrast to that in the lower frequency Ku-/X-/C-/L-bands, is likely more sensitive to sea spray, small-scale particles typically present at high winds. In this paper, tower-based field data collected by a continuous dual-co-polarized Ka-band radar during a strong offshore wind event (with wind speed reaching 33 m/s) are analyzed. This katabatic wind event (≈12 h long) was also recorded by supplementary wave, wind, and current sensors. At the wave fetch of ≈1 km, the maximum wavelength of observed offshore waves was ≈10 m. For such extremely young wind–sea conditions, an apparent sea spray generation was observed during wind gusts. Radar measurements were performed at 20° and 45° incidence angles, mostly for cross- and up-wind azimuth look geometry. Based on these high wind measurements, the previously developed Ka-band empirical model is tested and compared with other published geophysical model functions. Dual-co-polarized measurements are used to infer resonant Bragg and non-Bragg scattering components and assess the short wind wave spectrum, which shows a clear tendency for saturation at high winds. The presence of sea spray signatures is apparent in the high-frequency tails of radar Doppler spectra, but their overall contribution to the Doppler centroid frequency is weak. Hence, the standard modulation transfer function approach developed for moderate winds is still applicable at high winds for interpreting the wave-induced Doppler velocity and inferring sea surface currents. These results can also be useful for understanding Doppler scatterometry measurements in tropical cyclones.