SST Dependence of Ku- and C-Band Backscatter Measurements

Zhixiong Wang, Ad Stoffelen*, Franco Fois, Anton Verhoef, Chaofang Zhao, Mingsen Lin, Ge Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


The normalized radar cross section (NRCS) measured by satellite ocean radar systems is representative of the sea surface roughness at the scale of gravity-capillary waves, which are not only dominated by winds, but also modulated by some secondary factors such as sea surface temperature (SST) and sea surface salinity (SSS). In this paper, the variations of NRCS due to SST changes, depending on scatterometer radar frequency, polarization, and incidence angle, are investigated on the basis of a physics-based radar backscatter model and a dataset of collocated ASCAT C-band and RapidScat Ku-band scatterometer measurements. The study shows that the SST effects are substantial at Ku-band, but rather negligible for C-band NRCS measurements. Furthermore, the SST effects are wind speed dependent and more pronounced in VV polarization and at higher incidence angles. SSS effects, due to dielectric constant, surface tension, and dynamic viscosity variations, on scatterometer winds are limited (within 1%). This study concludes that it is necessary to take SST into account in scatterometer wind retrieval for radar wavelengths smaller than C-band.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7560878
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing
Issue number99
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Intercalibration
  • physics-based radar backscatter model
  • sea surface temperature (SST) dependency
  • wind scatterometer
  • wind-only geophysical model functions (GMF)


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