Ionospheric effects on synthetic aperture radar (SAR) clutter statistics

David P. Belcher, P.S. Cannon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
114 Downloads (Pure)


Low-frequency space-based synthetic aperture radar (SAR) is an ideal sensor for measuring forest biomass, but can suffer from ionospheric effects. The variation in total electron content (TEC), originating from ionospheric turbulence, causes the along track point spread function (PSF) to degrade in a manner which depends on ionospheric conditions. In this study, the effect of this PSF on the single point statistics (probability density function) and two point statistics (autocorrelation function (ACF)) is derived. It is shown that the K-distribution order parameter is directly proportional to the ionospheric turbulence, as quantified by CkL. The complex ACF is a measure of amplitude scintillation, and the intensity ACF is a measure of both the order parameter and the terrain correlation length. A simulation is performed which clearly shows that measuring the order parameter ratio between ionospherically disturbed and undisturbed images is a measure of CkL. This measure can be used two orders of magnitude below the point where the ionosphere causes defocusing of the SAR image. It is concluded that the usefulness of this new measure can only be verified by experimental data since the temporal stability of the underlying order parameter is unknown.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1004-1011
Number of pages8
JournalIET Radar, Sonar and Navigation
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 27 Dec 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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