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Estimation of sea state from Sentinel-1 Synthetic aperture radar imagery for maritime situation awareness

Pleskachevsky, Andrey, Jacobsen, Sven, Tings, Björn, Schwarz, Egbert
International journal of remote sensing 2019 v.40 no.11 pp. 4104-4142
algorithms, flight, remote sensing, spectral analysis, storms, synthetic aperture radar, texture, wind, Antarctic region, Black Sea, Gulf of Alaska, North Sea
A new empirical algorithm CWAVE_S1-IW for estimation of significant wave height Hₛ including swell and wind sea from C-band satellite-borne Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data has been developed for Sentinel-1 (S1) Interferometric Wide Swatrh Mode (IW) imagery. The algorithm was implemented into the Sea Sate Processor (SSP) for fully automatic processing for near real time (NRT) services and allow the estimation of wave fields of thousands of kilometres in the flight direction and 250 km swath from S1 IW scenes consisting of a sequence of individual images. The priority of CWAVE_S1-IW development was an automatic, fast and robust raster processing independent of wave patterns, applicable even when only clutter is visible in the SAR images. The algorithm is based on the spectral analysis of subscenes in wavenumber space. The empirical function allows direct Hₛ estimation from image spectra without first converting them into wave spectra and uses integrated image spectra parameters as well as estimated local wind information. A texture analysis based on Grey Level Co-occurrence Matrices (GLCM) is also applied. In this way, also the parameters of short waves can be estimated, which are not visible in S1 IW images and are only represented by clutter. The algorithm was tuned worldwide using in-situ collocated measurements of 92 buoys with more than 2500 acquisitions. The validated SSP allows automatic processing of worldwide S1 IW images in VV or HH polarization, including Atlantic storms, cyclones, and huge storms in the Gulf of Alaska with a root-mean-square (RMSE) error of 80 cm for Hₛ. For the closed seas like the North Sea, Baltic Seas and Black Sea the accuracy is higher with an RMSE = 55 cm. The algorithm is integrated into a demonstration service, used for further validation at the DLR ground station in Neustrelitz. The NRT processing has been tested by supporting a research ship cruise in the Antarctic Sea.