First analysis of TerraSAR-X along-track InSAR-derived current fields

Roland Romeiser, Steffen Suchandt, Hartmut Runge, Ulrich Steinbrecher, Steffen Grünler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


We present the first analysis of surface current fields derived from TerraSAR-X along-track interferometric synthetic aperture radar (along-track InSAR, ATI) data. The images were acquired over the mouth of the Elbe river (Germany) during six satellite overpasses in spring and summer 2008, using the experimental aperture switching mode of TerraSAR-X. In this mode, the phased-array synthetic aperture radar (SAR) antenna is split into two halves for receiving, but in contrast to the dual receive antenna mode, which uses two independent receivers in parallel, a single receiver is multiplexed to process signals from the two antenna halves in an alternating manner at a doubled pulse repetition frequency. The effective ATI baseline is on the order of 0.8 m. The SAR/ATI raw data processing is described in another paper in this issue. This paper focuses on the conversion of the basic interferograms into line-of-sight surface current fields, which includes an elimination of ship signatures, identification, and correction (as far as possible) of imaging artifacts, additional filtering and smoothing, and a subtraction of contributions of wave motions to detected velocities according to a theoretical model. We evaluate the quality of the results by comparison with current fields from a numerical flow model and with available in situ data. The ATI performance of TerraSAR-X is found to be basically consistent with theoretical expectations. After applying the same data processing algorithms to all six images, mean differences between TerraSAR-X-derived currents and reference currents in our main test area range from -0.11 to + 0.08 m/s in five of the six cases with one outlier at +0.42 m/s. The spatial current variations within the TerraSAR-X-derived current fields are consistent with the model in three cases, but unrealistically strong variations across the images are found in the other three cases. We attribute this to shortcomings of our preliminary raw data processing algorithms, which can probably be fixed after some more detailed analysis and testing. The results obtained so far encourage us to believe that our internal performance goal of a typical current measuring accuracy of 0.1 m/s at an effective spatial resolution better than 1 km can be met.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5299033
Pages (from-to)820-829
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Current measurement
  • Interferometry
  • Radar data processing
  • Radar imaging
  • Radar signal analysis
  • Radar velocity measurement
  • Rivers
  • Synthetic aperture radar

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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