Retrieval of Wind and Total Surface Current Vectors Using Experimental Bidirectional Along-Track Interferometric TanDEM-X Data

Nina Caldarella*, Paco Lopez-Dekker, Pau Prats-Iraola, Frederic Nouguier, Bertrand Chapron, Mariantonietta Zonno, Marc Rodriguez-Cassola

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Observations of wind and ocean surface velocity vectors by along-track interferometry (ATI) with the synthetic aperture radar (SAR) are not only important for direct applications but also to increase understandings of ocean upper layer mixing, air-ocean interactions, and mapping submesoscale (1-10 km) structures. An experimental bidirectional (BiDi) ATI acquisition mode of TanDEM-X observes with two squinted beams separated by an angle of approximately 13.2° in azimuth on the ground. The baseline is very short, and the along-track interferometric phase (ATI phase) of the ocean surface in the line-of-sight direction of the beams can be interpreted as a total Doppler velocity. The 2-D Doppler velocity field will thus include wind-wave detected motions. In this article, Doppler velocity fields acquired from this experimental acquisition mode are presented. The sequential retrieval of wind vector and total surface current vectors (TSCV) is demonstrated on the BiDi TanDEM-X data. The retrieval algorithm builds on existing geophysical model functions (GMFs) of normalized radar cross section (NRCS) and Doppler velocity. XMOD2 and a GMF based on the Elfouhaily ocean wave spectrum coupled with a Kirchhoff approximation (EOWS&KA) are used. The retrieved wind fields are generally consistent with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) ERA-5. While the ATI phase errors are small, the retrieved TSCV field looks promising. Acquisitions were located at sea over the tip of the Novaya Zemlya in Russia and over an area near Tromso, Norway.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5223412
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Accepted Author Manuscript


  • Along-track interferometry (ATI)
  • bidirectional (BiDi) synthetic aperture radar (SAR)
  • ocean surface current vectors
  • TanDEM-X
  • wind vectors


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