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Cross-spectral analysis of SAR altimetry waveform tails
  • +4
  • Marcel Kleinherenbrink,
  • Frithjof Ehlers,
  • Sergi Hernández,
  • Frédéric Nouguier,
  • Ourania Altiparmaki,
  • Florian Schlembach,
  • Bertrand Chapron
Marcel Kleinherenbrink

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile
Frithjof Ehlers
Sergi Hernández
Frédéric Nouguier
Ourania Altiparmaki
Florian Schlembach
Bertrand Chapron


Until recently, intensity modulations in synthetic aperture radar (SAR) altimetry waveform tails have been considered a nuisance for geophysical-parameter retrieval. These modulations are actually predictable and might be exploited using a spectral analysis of the waveform tails. After [1], a more elaborated analysis is performed to improve the interpretation of these SAR altimeter spectra. A fast numerical model is developed to explain the modulation mechanisms in focused SAR altimetry waveform tails. Using numerical solutions, standard analytical closed-form solutions, are demonstrated to be invalid to retrieve ocean-wave-spectra retrievals from nadir altimeters. Although not valid, a closed-form derivation provides intuitive insights about the information contained in a SAR altimetry cross-spectrum. Under moderate environmental conditions (significant wave heights of ∼2 m), a closed-form solution might still be useful to infer swell-wave spectra from swath-altimetry SAR spectra, like those of the proposed Sentinel-3 Next Generation Topography mission. Comparable to side-looking SAR ocean processing, the cross-spectral analysis for nadir signals reduces noise and might remove the 180-degree ambiguity of the wave direction. Since the synthetic aperture length of nadir altimeters is larger than sidelooking SARs, sublook processing can be performed to compute multiple cross-spectra for the same scene. With a slightly changing observation geometry, resulting cross-spectra reveal slightly different parts of the ocean-wave spectrum. The resulting cross-spectral stack can thus be used to improve the retrieval of ocean-wave parameters. Retrieved ocean-wave parameters shall then enhance the sampling of the global wave field, but also serve to advance more consistent sea-state-bias corrections.
20 Dec 2023Submitted to TechRxiv
22 Dec 2023Published in TechRxiv