An improved composite surface model for the radar backscattering cross section of the ocean surface 2. Model response to surface roughness variations and the radar imaging of underwater bottom topography

Roland Romeiser, Werner Alpers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

143 Scopus citations


In the companion paper we have presented an improved composite surface model for the calculation of normalized radar backscattering cross sections (NRCS) of the ocean surface. The proposed model accounts for the impact of the full two-dimensional ocean wave spectrum on the radar backscatter and was shown to reproduce measured absolute NRCS values for a variety of radar configurations and wind speeds satisfactorily after some reasonable tuning of the input ocean wave spectrum. This paper focuses on the modulation of the NRCS in the presence of spatially varying surface currents. First, the sensitivity of the NRCS to intensity variations of different ocean wave spectral components is investigated. Then the hydrodynamic modulation of the wave spectrum over underwater bottom topography in tidal waters is computed in different ways, and the resulting radar signatures are discussed. The composite surface model yields comparable radar signatures at high (10 GHz, X band) and low (1 GHz, L band) radar frequencies, which is in much better agreement with experimental results than the predictions of a first-order Bragg scattering model. On the other hand, measured variations of the NRCS at high radar frequencies appear to be still underestimated in some cases, which may be due to shortcomings of our description of the wave-current interaction by conventional weak hydrodynamic interaction theory. Possible improvements of the theory are discussed, and requirements for future experiments are formulated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number97JC00191
Pages (from-to)25251-25267
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research C: Oceans
Issue numberC11
StatePublished - Jan 1 1997
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

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