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Optical and Microwave Detection of Wave Breaking in the Surf Zone

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4 Author(s)
Catalan, P.A. ; Dept. de Obras Civiles, Univ. Santa Maria, Valparaiso, Chile ; Haller, M.C. ; Holman, R.A. ; Plant, W.J.

Synchronous and colocated optical and microwave signals from waves in the surf zone are presented and analyzed. The field data were collected using a high-resolution video system and a calibrated horizontally polarized marine radar during the decaying phase of a storm. The resulting changes in the received signals from varying environmental conditions were analyzed. The analysis of the optical signal histograms showed functional shapes that were in accordance with the expected imaging mechanisms from the breaking and nonbreaking waves. For the microwave returns, the histogram shape showed a little dependence on the environmental parameters and exhibited an inflexion point at high returned power that is attributed to a change in the scattering mechanism. The high intensity signals were clearly associated with active wave breaking. However, with either sensor, it can be difficult to effectively isolate the wave breaking signature from other sources, such as a remnant foam or the highly steepened nonbreaking waves. A combined method was developed using the joint histograms from both sensors, and it is shown to effectively discriminate between active breaking, remnant foam, and steepened waves. The new separation method allows a further analysis of the microwave scattering from the breaking waves and a better quantification of the length scales of the breaking wave roller and the spatial/temporal distribution of wave breaking and wave dissipation in the surf zone.

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Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:49 ,  Issue: 6 )