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Blended Sea Winds

The Blended Sea Winds dataset synthesizes observations from multiple satellites (up to six satellites since June 2002) to create gridded wind speeds. Blending the data fills in the temporal and spatial data gaps present in each source dataset, and reduces subsampling aliases and random errors. These products were developed in response to the increasing demand for higher resolution global datasets, and can be used to improve the accuracy of ocean and weather conditions forecasts. Please note these are research products, and thus, are experimental in nature. 

Optional User Registration

Access Methods

Data on HTTPS

Download ASCII versions of the Blended Sea Winds data from our https area. This access method is best for users with https and programming language experience.

Data Folder


The OPeNDAP/THREDDS Data Server can subset and aggregate data from multiple data files, or open/transfer the data to applications (MATLAB, GrADS, etc.)

Data Folder

Disclaimer for Near-Real-Time Products (NRT)

A version of NRT (about a 24-hour delay) Blended Sea Winds is produced quasi-daily to satisfy the needs of some users. Since the updates are done automatically under a non-operational environment (no 24/7 IT support), timely production is not guaranteed. File naming conventions are very similar, i.e., (NRT with 'rt'=real time) and (Research Quality – version 1.2).


Globally gridded data have .25° spatial resolution, and are available in netCDF and IEEE format for July 1987—present, with six-hourly, daily, and monthly time resolutions. There is also an 11-year (1995–2005) monthly climatological dataset. Data can be used with FORTRAN, MATLAB, and GrADS, and these programs can also be used to subset, visualize, and download data in many formats (e.g., text, graphics, etc.).

Wind directions come from two sources: the research delayed mode product uses data from the NCEP_DOE Reananlysis 2, and near-real-time products use numerical weather prediction from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.


Huai-Min Zhang, PhD
NOAA/NESDIS/National Centers for Environmental Information
151 Patton Ave
Asheville, NC 28801
Phone: 1-828-271-4090

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I get your data?

Use one of the methods listed in the Data Access tab. For data sub-setting (for a specific region and/or time period), in addition to the LAS and OPeNDAP/TDS servers, users can also use wget with region/time constraints. See as an example.

How often are the blended products are updated?

A set update frequency for the products has not been determined yet, but we update them at least once per quarter. This lack of a set update schedule is due to the input satellite data being in two forms: one with more stringent quality control and a lag time of about three to four weeks and the other that is provided in near real time but with less strict quality control. To date, we have produced the Blended Sea Winds datasets using the more strictly quality controlled satellite data, resulting in a delay of a few weeks. However, we do feel there is a need to produce the dataset in near real time. This is an area that user feedback plays an important role. We encourage you to fill out the user registration form and let us know what your needs are and how you are using our products.

How can I avoid losing files when downloading large amounts of data?

Use wget or other more advanced data access methods to access large amounts of data from https sites.

For the early time period (e.g., early January 1988), I get a field with only the bad flag value (-9999.0000). Why?

In the early days of the dataset (July 9, 1987–December 7, 1990), only the SSMI F13 satellite was available to provide data and at times retrieving data from it failed. No observational data is available from December 3, 1987 to January 12, 1988, and all values for that period are “bad” = -9999.

Sometimes I see wind data over some coastal land grid. Why?

The global 0.25-degree gridded products were generated using a Gaussian-like interpolation with a spatial radius of 62.5 km. The interpolations were done over the global 0.25-degree grid. No cleaning has been done over land along the coast (+/- 0.25 degree) because some users want this information for coastal applications. A topographic dataset on the blended wind grid is provided in this directory (see topo15g*).

Sometimes I see noisy (unreasonably large) stress data points. Why?

We are aware of the noisy stress, and a new version of the wind stress data is in progress. The data currently provided are calculated by scaling the NCEP Reanalysis 2 (NRA2) stress by the ratio of blended satellite wind speed of the NRA2 wind speed squared (for stress).  In areas where NRA2 winds are near zero while the Blended Seawinds are not near zero, you will see “geophysically unrealistic wind stress.” The NRA2 also contains noisy stresses. In the future, the wind stress will be computed using the COARE3.0 bulk formula. This will avoid nearly all of the issues with unrealistic air-sea fluxes associated with NWP and climate models. Turbulent air-sea heat fluxes will also be available. The Readme files provide detailed data structures and support reading programs.


Zhang, H.-M., J. J. Bates, and R. W. Reynolds, 2006: Assessment of composite global sampling: Sea surface wind speed, Geophysical Research Letters, 33, L17714, doi:10.1029/2006GL027086.

Zhang, H.-M., R.W. Reynolds, and J.G. Bates, 2006: Blended and gridded high resolution global sea surface wind speed and climatology from multiple satellites: 1987–present. 14th Conference on Satellite Meteorology and Oceanography, Atlanta, GA, American Meteorological Society, Paper 100004. []

Peng, G., H.-M. Zhang, H.P. Frank, J.-R. Bidlot, M. Higaki, S. Stevens, and W.R. Hankins, 2013: Evaluation of various surface wind products with OceanSITES buoy measurements. Weather and Forecasting, 28, 1281–1303, doi:10.1175/WAF-D-12-00086.1.

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