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Surface Velocity Profiles in a Vessel's Turbulent Wake Observed by a Dual-Beam Along-Track Interferometric SAR

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6 Author(s)
Toporkov, J.V. ; Remote Sensing Div., Naval Res. Lab., Washington, DC, USA ; Hwang, P.A. ; Sletten, M.A. ; Farquharson, G.
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The dual-beam interferometer is an airborne instrument that combines two vertically polarized C-band along-track interferometric synthetic aperture radars (AT-InSARs) observing the surface below at different squints. The system was designed by the University of Massachusetts and saw several deployments in the early 2000s. An imagery of a small vessel with a rather pronounced wake pattern captured during one of such flights is the subject of this letter. Specifically, the interferometric phase in the turbulent wake exhibits a conspicuous banding structure that is still visible at distances more than 1 km behind the craft. The phase signatures from the fore and aft looks are combined to retrieve both longitudinal and lateral velocity components along cuts traversing the wake 400 and 750 m behind the boat. The results identify appreciable variations in the longitudinal velocity across the turbulent wake which are apparently consistent with the combined effect of the hull drag and the propeller backwash. A persistent pattern for the lateral component is also observed but is harder to interpret without the detailed knowledge of the vessel. The examples demonstrate the utility of AT-InSAR and, particularly, of a dual-beam AT-InSAR, for studies of centerline ship wakes. Readily available velocity signatures of a turbulent wake obtained with such systems can help with vessel classification tasks.

Published in:

Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters, IEEE  (Volume:8 ,  Issue: 4 )