Validity assessment of SAMOSA retracking for fully-focused SAR altimeter waveforms

Frithjof Ehlers*, Florian Schlembach, Marcel Kleinherenbrink, Cornelis Slobbe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
98 Downloads (Pure)


We demonstrate in this work how we can take advantage of known unfocused SAR (UF-SAR) retracking methods (e.g. the physical SAMOSA model) for retracking of fully-focused SAR (FF-SAR) waveforms. Our insights are an important step towards consistent observations of sea surface height, significant wave height and backscatter coefficient (wind speed) with both UF-SAR and FF-SAR. This is of particular interest for SAR altimetry in the coastal zone, since coastal clutter may be filtered out more efficiently in the high-resolution FF-SAR waveform data, which has the potential to improve data quality. We implemented a multi-mission FF-SAR altimetry processor for Sentinel-3 (S3) and Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich (S6), using a back-projection algorithm, and analysed ocean waveform statistics compared to multilooked UF-SAR. We find for Sentinel-3 that the averaged power waveforms of UF-SAR and FF-SAR over ocean are virtually identical, while for Sentinel-6 the FF-SAR power waveforms better resemble the UF-SAR zero-Doppler beam. We can explain and model the similarities and differences in the data via theoretical considerations of the waveform integrals. These findings suggest to use the existing UF-SAR SAMOSA model for retracking S3 FF-SAR waveforms but the SAMOSA zero-Doppler beam model for S6 FF-SAR waveforms, instead. Testing the outlined approach over short track segments, we obtain range biases between UF-SAR and FF-SAR lower than 2 mm and significant wave height biases lower than 5 cm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1377-1396
Number of pages20
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Altimetry
  • Fully-focused SAR
  • Retracking
  • Sentinel-3
  • Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich


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