Tropical cyclone winds retrieved from c-band cross-polarized synthetic aperture radar

Jochen Horstmann, Silvia Falchetti, Christopher Wackerman, Salvatore Maresca, Michael J. Caruso, Hans C. Graber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


This paper presents a geophysical model function (GMF) that has been developed to describe the relation of the ocean surface wind with the normalized radar cross section (NRCS) at C-band cross polarization (cross-pol). Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images have been simultaneously collected at copolarization (co-pol) and cross-pol at moderate to high wind speeds. Using the SAR co-pol retrieved wind fields and an uncertainty estimate of the retrieved wind speeds, the cross-pol dependencies of the NRCS are investigated with respect to wind, incidence angle, and polarization pairs. For wind speeds above 10 m/s, there is a significant dependence of the NRCS on wind speed. However, the SAR cross-pol data are also significantly affected by the noise floor and crosstalk between the channels. Estimates of the noise floor are determined and removed from the NRCS. Three GMFs are developed: the first is for transmission at horizontal (H) polarization and the second at vertical (V) polarization. A third GMF accounts for wind direction dependence. Validation of the GMFs is conducted by comparison with collocated Stepped Frequency Microwave Radiometer (SFMR) data. The resulting bias of -0.7 m/s and standard deviation of 3.7 m/s demonstrate the excellent performance for these GMFs for wind speed retrieval between 10 and 35 m/s. Furthermore, comparisons show that SAR cross-pol retrieved wind speeds are of similar quality as those of SFMR and are significantly better in the moderate to high wind speed regime than SAR co-pol retrieved winds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7001637
Pages (from-to)2887-2898
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • Radar remote sensing
  • cyclones
  • geophysical measurements
  • hurricanes
  • oceans sea surface
  • radar cross-sections
  • synthetic aperture radar
  • tropical cyclones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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