Measurement of the ionospheric scintillation parameter CkL from SAR images of clutter

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Space-based synthetic aperture radar (SAR) can be affected by the ionosphere, particularly at L-band and below. A technique is described that exploits the reduction in SAR image contrast to measure the strength of ionospheric
turbulence parameter 퐶풌퐿. The theory describing the effect of the ionosphere on the SAR point spread function (PSF) and the consequent effect on clutter, is reviewed and extended. This theory can then be used to determine 퐶풌퐿 from both corner reflectors (CRs) and K-distributed SAR clutter. Measuring the K-distribution order parameter allows 퐶풌퐿 values much lower than those that defocus the image to be determined. The results of an experiment in which a CR on Ascension Island was repeatedly imaged by PALSAR-2 in the spotlight
mode during the scintillation season are described. The value of 퐶푘퐿 obtained by measuring the clutter was compared with that obtained from a nearby CR. The correlation between the two was good using a median value of the spectral index p. This correlation was improved by using the measured value of p derived from the CR PSF. The technique works for any homogeneous K-distributed SAR clutter and is thus applicable to extra-terrestrial bodies as well as PALSAR-2 images of Ascension Island.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5937 - 5943
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number10
Early online date9 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017