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Journal Article

Specular point scattering contribution to the mean Synthetic Aperture Radar image of the ocean surface


Hasselmann,  Klaus
MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;

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Winebrenner, D. P., & Hasselmann, K. (1988). Specular point scattering contribution to the mean Synthetic Aperture Radar image of the ocean surface. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 93, 9281-9294. doi:10.1029/JC093iC08p09281.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0008-7F46-C
n general, the return signal scattered from the ocean surface used to form synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images contains contributions from at least two scattering mechanisms. In addition to resonant Bragg‐type scattering, specular point scattering becomes important as the angle of incidence becomes small ( ≲ 20°). In this paper we include the specular point rough surface scattering mechanism in a model for the mean SAR image of the ocean surface and examine the effects of this scattering mechanism theoretically. We find that the complete mean SAR intensity image consists of a sum of images due to specular point scattering and Bragg‐type resonant scattering. Because surface specular points have a short coherence time and move with considerable velocities, the contribution to the mean image due to these scatterers is of low azimuthal resolution and is displaced from the actual sea surface, typically by several SAR resolution cells. The bandwidth of this image can easily exceed the bandwidth of a typical SAR processor, leading to a loss of mean image intensity. The local backscatter cross‐section modulation is strong and nonlinear in the slope of the longwave field in the SAR range direction. At small incidence angles, this causes the specular point return from wave slopes tipped toward the SAR to become much brighter than the Bragg‐scattering return. Taken together, these effects are capable of producing azimuthally oriented streaks in SAR images, such as have been observed by Seasat. We present numerical estimates of coherence time, azimuthal displacement, cross‐section modulation, etc., computed using the parameters of the Seasat and shuttle imaging radar‐B SARs as well as typical parameters for an airborne X band SAR