HYDRO 2016 Paper 5A4

Sea state from high-resolution satellite-borne synthetic aperture radar imagery

Andrey L. Pleskachevsky, Stefan Wiehle, Sven Jacobsen, Claus Gebhardt, Björn Tings, Egbert Schwarz, Dietmar Krause, Thomas Bruns, Jens Kiese


The Sea Sate Processor (SSP) was developed for fully automatic processing of high-resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data from TerraSAR-X (TS-X) satellites and implemented into the processing chain for Near Real Time (NRT) services in the DLR Ground Station "Neustrelitz". The NRT chain was organised and tested to provide the processed data to the German Weather Service (DWD) in order to validate the new coastal forecast model CWAM (Coastal WAve Model) in the German Bight of the North Sea with 900 m horizontal resolution. The NRT test-runs, wherein the processed TS-X data were transferred to DWD and then incorporated into forecast products reach the best performance about 10 min for delivery of processed TS-X data to DWD server after scene acquisition.

To do this, a new empirical algorithm XWAVE_C (C = coastal) for estimation of significant wave height from X-band satellite-borne SAR data has been designed for coastal applications. The algorithm is based on the spectral analysis of subscenes and the empirical model function yields an estimation of integrated sea state parameters directly from SAR image spectra without transformation into wave spectra. To provide the raster coverage analysis, the SSP intends three steps of recognising and removing the influence of non-sea-state-produced signals in the Wadden Sea areas such as ships, buoys, dry sandbars as well as nonlinear SAR image distortions produced by e.g. short and breaking waves.

For the validation, more than 150 TS-X StripMap scene sequences with a coverage of ~30 km × 300 km across the German Bight since 2013 were analysed and compared with in situ Buoy measurements from 6 different locations. On this basis, the SSP autonomous processing of TS-X Stripmap images has been confirmed to have a high accuracy with an error RMSE = 25 cm for the total significant wave height.

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