Ocean wave spectra from a linear polarimetric SAR

Yijun He*, William Perrie, Tao Xie, Qingping Zou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)
13 Downloads (Pure)


Conventional horizontal or vertical polarization synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images seldom perform well in detecting azimuthally traveling ocean waves. However, theoretical analyses suggest that linear-polarimetric backscatter measurements may be more sensitive to these waves and, therefore, that a SAR with linear polarization is expected to give a better measurement of azimuthally traveling ocean waves. We derive the polarization-orientation modulation transform function and tilt modulation transform function of the linear-polarimetric SAR. Through numerical simulations based on these formulations, we examine the effects of radar and ocean wave parameters on linear-polarimetric SAR image spectra. We suggest a method to eliminate the 180° directional ambiguity in determining the true wave direction. Our numerical simulations show that the correlation between ocean wave spectra and SAR image spectra is improved for larger radar incidence angles and longer ocean waves. For real aperture radar, we suggest that the polarimetric modulation allows measurement of waves traveling in the azimuth direction. Moreover, as suggested by Schuler et al., this may be the dominant modulation for many SAR aircraft measurements, particularly for moderate sea states.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2623-2631
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2004


  • Directional ambiguity
  • Linear polarimetric synthetic aperture radar (SAR)
  • Ocean wave spectra
  • Polarization orientation modulation transform function
  • Synthetic aperture radar (SAR)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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