Analysis of sea spikes in radar sea clutter data

HW Melief, H Greidanus, P van Genderen, P Hoogeboom

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    69 Citations (Scopus)


    In this paper three sets of high-resolution, coherent, and polarimetric radar sea clutter data are analyzed and compared with radar sea clutter models. The nature of the data allows a thorough analysis of the power, polarization and velocity of the sea clutter. It is shown that these quantities, especially the velocity, are good measures of many physical properties of the ocean surface. Furthermore, it is shown that these physical properties match well with the sea clutter models. Sea clutter is found to consist of two components, a diffuse background, characterized by low values of backscattered power, HH/VV polarization ratio and Doppler velocity, and a number of spiking events, which possess higher power, polarization ratio and velocity. The background is reasonably well modeled by tilt-modulated Bragg scattering, whereas the spikes may be associated with the scattering on steepened and/or breaking waves. Moreover, it is shown that the influence of microbreakers has to be taken into account to explain the relatively high polarization ratio. A breaking wave origin for the spikes is supported in two ways. First, by a detailed analysis of the temporal behavior of individual spike backscatter properties, and second, by a statistical analysis of the entire population of spikes.
    Original languageUndefined/Unknown
    Pages (from-to)982-993
    Number of pages12
    JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


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    • CWTS 0.75 <= JFIS < 2.00

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