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Impacts of ionospheric scintillation on the BIOMASS P-Band satellite SAR

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date03/2014
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Number of pages13
Early online date12/06/13
Original languageEnglish


The European Space Agency is conducting studies for a low-earth orbiting polarimetric synthetic aperture radar called BIOMASS to provide global measurements of forest biomass and tree height. Phase scintillation across the synthetic aperture caused by ionospheric irregularities can degrade the impulse response function (IRF) and cause squinting, and its temporal variation can cause decorrelation in repeat-pass interferometry. These effects are simulated for a range of conditions for the baseline BIOMASS system configuration using the Wideband model of scintillation, which predicts that for a dawn-dusk orbit, impacts of scintillation over forest regions are negligible under all conditions except at high latitudes in the North American sector under high sunspot activity. In this sector, single-look IRFs have mean integrated sidelobe ratios (ISLRs) and peak sidelobe ratios (PSLRs) better than 0 and -5 dB, respectively, at 90% confidence interval under median solar activity up to the northern tree line (~70° geomagnetic). Degradation in the mean 3-dB resolution of up to 10% is predicted, with mean absolute azimuth shifts of the IRF peak of up to 2 m, which increases to 5 m at high sunspot number. Similar values are found for the dawn and dusk sides, and seasonal variations are negligible for latitudes below the tree line. Repeat-pass interferometric image pairs maintain coherence > 0.8 up to 50° N under median sunspot conditions. Four-look processing improves the ISLR and PSLR by several decibels, but causes significant degradation of the 3-dB resolution due to incoherent averaging of images with different random azimuth shifts.