Mapping of Sea Surface Wind and Current Fields in the China Seas Using X-Band Spaceborne SAR

  • Xiao-Ming LiEmail author
  • Yong Zheng Ren


This chapter presents some examples of mapping sea surface wind and currents field in the China Sea using the new generation of spaceborne Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X with high spatial resolution. With respect to the sea surface wind field, we choose two cases to show contrasting sea surface wind patterns downstream of an archipelago in the Bohai Sea, the bright wind jet and the dark wind wake. This comparison highlights the capability of mapping the sea surface wind field at high spatial resolution using X-band SAR and the dedicated Geophysical Model Function. The tidal current in the HangZhou Bay, East China Sea, is a typical semi-diurnal current with a maximum speed up to 3 m/s in the spring tide. We demonstrate a novel application for deriving tidal current in the HangZhou bay based on the satellite constellation data from TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X operating in the pursuit monostatic mode. The short temporal interval, on the scale of a few seconds, for the two satellite acquisitions over the same area is a unique advantage for mapping tidal current fields with great spatial and temporal variations.


Synthetic Aperture Radar X-band SAR Sea surface wind Tidal current 



The copyright of the presented TSX and TDX data belongs to the German Aerospace Center (DLR). These data were provided by DLR to the authors via several AO proposals. The present study was partially supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41406198), the “Pioneered Hundred Talents Program, Chinese Academy of Sciences” and the Hainan Key S&T Programme (No. ZDKJ2016015).


  1. Chapron B, Collard F, Ardhuin F (2005) Direct measurements of ocean surface velocity from space: interpretation and validation. J Geophys Res Oceans.
  2. Christiansen MB, Hasager CB (2005) Wake effects of large offshore wind farms identified from satellite SAR. Remote Sens Environ 98:251–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ciappa A, Pietranera L, Coletta A, Jiang XW (2010) Surface transport detected by pairs of COSMO-SkyMed ScanSAR images in the Qingdao region (Yellow Sea) during a macro-algal bloom in July 2008. J Mar Syst 80:135–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Emery WJ, Thomas AC, Collins MJ, Crawford WR, Mackas DL (1986) An objective method for computing advective surface velocities from sequential infrared satellite images. J Geophys Res Oceans 91(C11):12865–12878CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Gade M, Alpers W, Huhnerfuss H, Wismann VR, Lange PA (1998) On the reduction of the radar backscatter by oceanic surface films: scatterometer measurements and their theoretical interpretation. Remote Sens Environ 66:52–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Gade M, Seppke B, Dreschler-Fischer L (2012) Mesoscale surface current fields in the Baltic Sea derived from multi-sensor satellite data. Int J Remote Sens 33(10):3122–3146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gerling TW (1986) Structure of the surface wind field from the Seasat SAR. J Geophys Res Oceans 91(C2):2308–2320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Goldstein RM, Zebker HA (1987) Interferometric radar measurement of ocean surface currents. Nature 328:707–709CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Goldstein RM, Zebker HA, Barnett TP (1989) Remote sensing of ocean currents. Science 246(4935):1282–1285CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hersbach H, Stoffelen A, De Haan S (2007) An improved C-band scatterometer ocean geophysical model function: CMOD5. J Geophys Res Oceans.
  11. Johannessen JA, Chapron B, Collard F, Kudryavtsev V, Mouche A, Akimov D, Dagestad KF (2008) Direct ocean surface velocity measurements from space: improved quantitative interpretation of Envisat ASAR observations. Res Lett, Geophys. Scholar
  12. Koch W (2004) Directional analysis of SAR images aiming at wind direction. IEEE Trans Geosci Remote Sens 42(4):702–710CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Lehner S, Horstmann J, Koch W, Rosenthal W (1998) Mesoscale wind measurements using recalibrated ERS SAR images. J Geophys Res Oceans 103(C4):7847–7856CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Li XM, Lehner S (2014) Algorithm for sea surface wind retrieval from TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X data. IEEE Trans Geosci Remote Sens 52(5):2928–2939CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Li X, Zheng W, Pichel WG, Zou CZ, Clemente-Coln P (2007) Coastal katabatic winds imaged by SAR. Geophys Res Lett.
  16. Li XM, Li X, He M (2009) Coastal upwelling observed by multi-satellite sensors. Sci China Ser D Earth Sci 52(7):1030–1038CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Li XM, Chi L, Chen X, Ren Y, Lehner S (2014) SAR observation and numerical modeling of tidal current wakes at the East China Sea offshore wind farm. J Geophys Res Oceans. Scholar
  18. Liu AK, Hsu MK (2009) Deriving ocean surface drift using multiple SAR sensors. Rem Sens 1(3):266–277CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lyzenga DR, Marmorino GO (1998) Measurement of surface currents using sequential synthetic aperture radar images of slick patterns near the edge of the Gulf Stream. J Geophys Res Oceans 103:18769–18777CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Monaldo F (2000) The Alaska SAR demonstration and near-real-time synthetic aperture radar winds. J Hopkins APL Tech D 21(1):75–79Google Scholar
  21. Mouche AA, Hauser D, Daloze JF, Gurin C (2005) Dual-polarization measurements at C band over the ocean: results from airborne radar observations and comparison with ENVISAT ASAR data. IEEE Trans Geosci Remote Sens 43(4):753–769CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mourad PD, Thompson DR, Vandemark DC (2000) Extracting fine-scale wind fields from synthetic aperture radar images of the ocean surface. J Hopkins APL Tech D 21:108–115Google Scholar
  23. Qazi WA, Emery WJ, Fox-Kemper B (2014) Computing ocean surface currents over the coastal California current system using 30-Min-Lag sequential SAR images. IEEE Trans Geosci Remote Sens 52(12):7559–7580CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Quilfen Y, Chapron B, Elfouhaily T, Katsaros K, Tournadre J (1998) Observation of tropical cyclones by high resolution scatterometry. J Geophys Res 103:77677786CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ren Y, Lehner S, Brusch S, Li X, He M (2012) An algorithm for the retrieval of sea surface wind fields using X-band TerraSAR-X data. Int J Remote Sens 3(23):7310–7336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ren Y, Li XM, Gao GP, Busche TE (2017) Derivation of sea surface tidal current from spaceborne SAR constellation data. IEEE Trans Geosci Remote Sens 55(6). Scholar
  27. Romeiser R et al (2005) Current measurements by SAR along-track interferometry from a space shuttle. IEEE Trans Geosci Remote Sens 43(10):2315–2324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Romeiser R, Suchandt S, Runge H, Steinbrecher U, Grunler S (2010) First analysis of TerraSAR-X along-track InSAR-derived current fields. IEEE Trans Geosci Remote Sens 2(48):280–829Google Scholar
  29. Romeiser R, Runge H, Suchandt S, Kahle R, Rossi C, Bell PS (2014) Quality assessment of surface current fields from TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X along-track interferometry and Doppler centroid analysis. IEEE Trans Geosci Remote Sens 52(5):2759–2772CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Signell RP, Chiggiato J, Horstmann J, Doyle JD, Pullen J, Askari F (2010) High-resolution mapping of Bora winds in the northern Adriatic Sea using synthetic aperture radar. J Geophys Res Oceans.
  31. Stoffelen A, Anderson D (1997) Scatterometer data interpretation: estimation and validation of the transfer function CMOD4. J Geophys Res 102:5767–5780CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Thompson DR, Elfouhaily TM, Chapron B (1998) Polarization ratio for microwave backscattering from the ocean surface at low to moderate incidence angles. Proc Geosci Remote Sens Symp 3:1671–1673Google Scholar
  33. Wang YR, Li XM (2016) Derivation of sea surface wind directions from TerraSAR-X data using the local gradient method. Remote Sens. Scholar
  34. Xie D, Wang Z, Gao S, De Vriend HJ (2009) Modeling the tidal channel morphodynamics in a macro-tidal embayment, Hangzhou Bay, China. Cont Shelf Res 29(15):1757–1767CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Zhang B, Perrie W, He Y (2011) Wind speed retrieval from RADARSAT-2 quad polarization images using a new polarization ratio model. J Geophys Res Oceans.
  36. Zhao Y, Li XM, Sha J (2016) Sea surface wind streaks in spaceborne synthetic aperture radar imagery. J Geophys Res: Oceans 121(9):6731–6741CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital EarthChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Hainan Key Laboratory of Earth ObservationSanyaChina

Personalised recommendations