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T. D. Sikora
,
G. S. Young
,
R. C. Beal
, and
J. B. Edson

Abstract

Two distinct backscatter regimes are seen on a European remote sensing satellite ERS-1 C-band (5.6 cm) synthetic aperture radar (SAR) image of the sea surface during a time of fair synoptic-scale weather conditions. One backscatter regime is mottled. In contrast to that, the second backscatter regime is marbled.

The authors hypothesize that the mottled backscatter pattern is a characteristic SAR backscatter pattern linked to the presence of the convective (i.e., statically unstable/convective-eddy containing) marine atmospheric boundary layer (CMABL) and can be used to help determine CMABL structure [convective-eddy type (cellular convection versus longitudinal rolls), eddy wavelength, and CMABL depth (via mixed-layer similarity theory for aspect ratio)]. The hypothesis linking the presence and structure of the CMABL to the mottled backscatter pattern on SAR imagery is validated by analyzing data from a number of sources gathered in the vicinity of the boundary between the mottled and marbled regimes on the SAR image.

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