Relationship between Hurricane Surface Winds and L-Band Radar Backscatter from the Sea Surface

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  • a Department of Engineering and Computer Sciences, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY 11550
  • | b Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA 91103
  • | c Planetary Science Institute, Science Applications Inc., Pasadena, CA 91101
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Abstract

High-altitude, airborne, L-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data were collected in Hurricane Gloria on 28 and 30 September 1976. The backscattered power levels (proportional to the surface scattering coefficient) averaged over a few square kilometers of surface area were found to vary with surface wind speed and the angle of the wind relative to the radar. Comparisons between the backscatter from the eye and eye-wall regions of the hurricane were made with low-level aircraft wind measurements that were nearly coincident in space and time. The SAR has the potential advantage over other radar types because of its higher spatial resolution. It also appears to have the ability to penetrate rainfall, with a reduction in the echo from the surface. One difference when compared with higher frequency microwave radars is a decrease in the sensitivity of the backscatter to changes in wind speed. This dependence of L-band radar backscatter on surface winds suggests that the winds associated with hurricanes can be measured with airborne or spaceborne radars.

Abstract

High-altitude, airborne, L-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data were collected in Hurricane Gloria on 28 and 30 September 1976. The backscattered power levels (proportional to the surface scattering coefficient) averaged over a few square kilometers of surface area were found to vary with surface wind speed and the angle of the wind relative to the radar. Comparisons between the backscatter from the eye and eye-wall regions of the hurricane were made with low-level aircraft wind measurements that were nearly coincident in space and time. The SAR has the potential advantage over other radar types because of its higher spatial resolution. It also appears to have the ability to penetrate rainfall, with a reduction in the echo from the surface. One difference when compared with higher frequency microwave radars is a decrease in the sensitivity of the backscatter to changes in wind speed. This dependence of L-band radar backscatter on surface winds suggests that the winds associated with hurricanes can be measured with airborne or spaceborne radars.

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