Advanced Remote Sensing of Internal Waves by Spaceborne Along-Track InSAR-A Demonstration with TerraSAR-X

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14 Scopus citations


Since the SEASAT mission in 1978, satellite-based synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images have been used to study oceanic internal waves. Internal waves become visible in SAR images because their orbital currents modulate the surface roughness. While this leads to an accurate spatial representation of internal wave patterns, the complexity of the imaging mechanism makes it difficult to derive actual currents and internal wave amplitudes from SAR signatures. We demonstrate in this paper how a more robust parameter retrieval is possible with along-track interferometric SAR (InSAR) data that resolve amplitudes and temporal phase changes of the backscattered signal together, the latter of which are directly related to the scatterers' line-of-sight velocities. Our example data set, which was acquired by TerraSAR-X in Dual Receive Antenna mode at Dongsha (South China Sea), exhibits strong signatures of internal waves in the interferogram amplitude and phase. We use a simple internal soliton parameterization and a numerical radar imaging model to find a plausible combination of internal wave parameters, which leads to good agreement between simulated and observed signatures. Testing the sensitivity of radar amplitude and phase signatures to various parameters, we show that along-track InSAR data should generally permit more accurate and less ambiguous internal wave parameter retrievals than conventional SAR images.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7155554
Pages (from-to)6735-6751
Number of pages17
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • Current measurement
  • image analysis
  • remote sensing
  • synthetic aperture radar (SAR)
  • waves
  • wind

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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