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A model for Brewster angle damping and multipath effects on the microwave radar sea echo at low grazing angles

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1 Author(s)
D. B. Trizna ; Naval Res. Lab., Washington, DC, USA

Brewster angle damping and local multipath effects are considered as sources of polarization differences in low grazing angle sea scatter characteristics. The authors show that at least five observed polarization differences can be explained by local multipath interference effects that occur due to the illumination of discrete nonlinear ocean surface features, such as bores and small scale breaking waves. The illumination gain factor (IGF) is defined at a point in space, as the total power at that point relative to the power in the incident plane wave. The IGF resulting from local multipath from the sea surface forward of a discrete scatterer produces strong interference patterns that can vary both with grazing angle and scatterer height. As a result, IGF values up to a factor of 16 (12 dB) can occur for horizontal polarization (HH) when the interference is constructive; a corresponding strong cancellation occurs for destructive interference. These extreme variations can cause strong HH NRCS amplitude modulations due either to a change of local wave slope or a change of scatterer shape with time. However, Brewster angle damping of the forward scatter path for grazing angles below 20° occurs for vertical (VV) polarization, and reduces the VV IGF in magnitude and dynamic range, eliminating such strong modulations. This effect scales with radar wavelength, and higher wave features are required to produce equivalent effects for radar frequencies far below 10 GHz. As an illustration, six radar bands are compared: L (1.4 GHz), S (3.5 GHz), C (5 GHz), X (10 GHz), Ku (15 GHz), and Ka (35 GHz), for a sea water dielectric. X-band results indicate that 12-dB IGFs can occur for water surface features just a centimeter above the mean surface. As an application of these results, the influence of these HH and VV IGF patterns is modeled for discrete scatterers distributed uniformly along an ocean gravity wave. The dynamic range of the HH IGF for a distribution of bore scatterers up to 5 cm high is found to he significantly larger than for VV at all locations on the long wave. Moreover, the IGF HHVV polarization ratio forward of the crest, where the largest number of small scale breaking wave scatterers occurs, is larger than at all other regions of the long wave, of the order of 20 dB. These results suggest that HH polarization may be sensitive to small scale breaking features on the ocean surface at low grazing angles, and thus may be a sensitive measure of air-sea fluxes

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing  (Volume:35 ,  Issue: 5 )