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Ocean SAR

Code: EGEO4026     Acronym: EGEO4026

Classification Keyword
OFICIAL Surveying Engineering

Instance: 2021/2022 - 2S

Active? Yes
Responsible unit: Department of Geosciences, Environment and Spatial Plannings
Course/CS Responsible: Master's degree in Remote Sensing

Cycles of Study/Courses

Acronym No. of Students Study Plan Curricular Years Credits UCN Credits ECTS Contact hours Total Time
M:DR 4 The study plan from 2018 1 - 3 21 81

Teaching Staff - Responsibilities

Teacher Responsibility
Jorge Manuel Reis Magalhães

Teaching - Hours

Theoretical and practical : 1,00
Other: 0,50
Type Teacher Classes Hour
Theoretical and practical Totals 1 1,00
Jorge Manuel Reis Magalhães 1,00
Other Totals 1 0,50
Jorge Manuel Reis Magalhães 0,50
Mais informaçõesLast updated on 2021-07-15.

Fields changed: Objectives, Programa, Resultados de aprendizagem e competências

Teaching language

Suitable for English-speaking students


Main goals include grasping the fundamentals of radar imaging of the ocean surface as well as understanding the different dynamical processes capable to imprint signatures on Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) on the sea surface. Both atmospheric and marine dynamical processes will be addressed as key processes to cause distinct signatures on the water surface. At the end of the course the students should be able to interpret SAR images of the ocean surface and identify possible phenomena causing the observed signatures. They should also be able to extract some quantitative parameters from the SAR images.

Learning outcomes and competences

The successful interpretation of SAR images of the ocean surface can only be achieved via SAR imaging theories odescribing the interaction of electromagnetic and oceanic waves and the principles of operation of Synthetic Aperture Radars, as well as a solid observational experience of an elevated number of image examples with dynamical processes. This curricular unit is therefore focused on those theoretical concepts necessary to the SAR comprehension, and available image examples in the literature as well as numerous SAR images that were used by the lecturer during his 15 years’ experience in SAR image analysis. The quantitative information that is possible to extract from SAR images is based on the expertise of the lecturer, state of the art algorithms, and whenever possible will be used with validation.

Working method



Theories of the interaction of electromagnetic and oceanic waves; Principles and introduction to Synthetic Aperture Radars; Comparison with a real aperture radar (RAR); Enhancement of spatial resolution in azimuth; Enhancement of resolution in range (chirp pulse); SAR image calibration; Models of radar backscatter from the ocean surface; Bragg scattering theory; Doppler effect “Train-off-the-Track”; Radar imaging of ocean surface waves; Bathymetry retrieval from shoaling ocean surface waves; Weak hydrodynamic interaction theory and applications in the detection of ocean fronts and internal waves; SAR imaging of oil spills (automatic segmentation based on “k-means” algorithms); Wind speed retrieval at the sea surface based on SAR measurements; Dual polarization techniques and components separation: Bragg and non-polarized (applications); Synergy with other sensors and applications: coastal upwelling; oil spill detection; marine surface films (slicks); surface and internal waves; oceanic and atmospheric fronts; bathymetry from surface current gradients; atmospheric gravity waves; convection cells in the atmosphere; coastal wind fields; rip currents.

Mandatory literature

Jackson C. & Apel, J.; Synthetic Aperture Radar Marine User’s Manual, NOAA. ISBN: http://www.sarusersmanual.com
Zheng, Q.; ) Satellite SAR detection of sub-mesoscale Ocean Dynamic Processes, Advanced Series on Ocean Engineering , Volume 44; 300pp, 2017

Complementary Bibliography

Robinson, I.S.; Discovering the Ocean from Space: the unique applications of satellite oceanography , Springer/Praxis, Berlin Heidelberg, 2010
Robinson, I.S.; Measuring the Ocean from Space: The Principles and Methods of Satellite Oceanography, Springer/Praxis, Heidelberg, Germany/Chichester, U.K., 2004

Teaching methods and learning activities

There will be lots of TP exposition of slides in class that will illustrate the theory of radar imaging of the ocean surface as well as provide many examples of SAR images with various atmospheric and oceanic phenomena. Consulting internet sites will be a common practice due to the numerous existing sites specifically designed for teaching SAR image interpretation (see below). Presentation of algorithms and computer code to process SAR imagery will be made in class, together with proposed exercises to be done at home concerning the extraction of quantitative information from SAR images. The exercises will be evaluated by the tutor, who will gain insight about the progress of the students in class. Image interpretation of dynamical processes will be always present in class, and should be a measure of progress of students contributing to their evaluation at the end of the semester. In the lectures of type “O” possible doubts about the various topics of the syllabus will be clarified and support to the performance of the proposed practical exercises will be given.

There will be a written exam that will be used to assess the knowledge of the students gained during the course, which should weight 50% in the final mark, and a computing project will be proposed (also 50% weight).




Natural sciences > Environmental science > Earth science > Geophysical sciences
Technological sciences > Technology > Remote sensing
Physical sciences > Physics > Electromagnetism > Radiation physics

Evaluation Type

Distributed evaluation with final exam

Assessment Components

designation Weight (%)
Exame 45,00
Participação presencial 10,00
Trabalho prático ou de projeto 45,00
Total: 100,00

Amount of time allocated to each course unit

designation Time (hours)
Estudo autónomo 70,00
Frequência das aulas 35,00
Trabalho escrito 10,00
Total: 115,00

Eligibility for exams

There will be a written exam that will be used to assess the knowledge of the students gained during the course, which should contribute to 45% in the final grade, and a project will be proposed (also 45%). Continuous in-class assessments will yield the final 10%.

Calculation formula of final grade


Classification improvement

An extra exam is possible, as well as a written work.
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