Retrieval of surface wave parameters from sar images and their validation in the coastal seas around Japan

Jian Sun, Hiroshi Kawamura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


We have developed a scheme to retrieve surface wave parameters (wave height and wave propagation direction) from European Remote-Sensing Satellite (ERS) Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) image mode data in coastal seas around Japanese coastlines. SAR spectra are converted to surface wave spectra of swell-dominated or wind-wave dominated cases. The SAR spectrum and SAR-derived wind speed are used to derive the surface wave spectrum. The wind-wave dominated case and swell-dominated case are differentiated by a wind speed of 6 m/s, and processed in different ways because of their different degree of nonlinearity. It is indicated that the cutoff wavelength for retrieval of the wind-wave dominated spectrum is proportional to the root of significant wave height, which is consistent with the results of previous studies. We generated 66 match-ups using the SAR sub-images and the in-situ surface wave parameters, which were measured by wave gauges installed in near-shore seas. Among them, there are 57 swell-dominated cases, and 9 wind-wave dominated cases. The significant wave heights derived from SAR and from in-situ observation agree with the bias of 0.09 m, the standard deviation of 0.61 m and the correlation coefficient of 0.78. The averaged absolute deviation of wave propagation directions is 18.4°, and the trend of the agreement does not depend on the wave height. These results demonstrate that the SAR surface wave spectrum retrieved by the present system can be used to observe the surface wave field in the coastal seas around Japan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-577
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Oceanography
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Coastal sea
  • SAR spectrum
  • SAR wind speed
  • Surface wave retrieval
  • Surface wave spectrum
  • Synthetic Aperture Radar

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography


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