Minimize ERS SAR Tropical: Oceanic Phenomena
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Oceanic Phenomena Introduction
Mesoscale oceanic phenomena become visible on SAR images because they are associated with a variable surface current which modulates the sea surface roughness and thus the normalized radar cross section (NRCS).
oceanic phenomena Channel Plumes
ERS-1 SAR image of the city of Istanbul and the Bosporus. Surface water from the Black Sea flows into the Sea of Marmara and generates there an elongated plume.
oceanic phenomena Coastal Discharges
ERS-1 SAR image acquired on 8 September 1992 showing a section of the Mediterranean Sea north-west of the Strait of Messina. The dark patch marked by an arrow results from a coastal discharge from the river Budello. It seems that polluted waters from industrial plants are discharged into the sea via this river.
oceanic phenomena

Coastal Fronts
The bright line visible on this ERS-1 SAR image acquired over the coastal waters off the Pacific coast of Colombia seems to be a coastal front.

oceanic phenomena Coastal Rivers
ERS-1 SAR image of the Atlantic coast of northern Costa Rica and south Nicaragua. The river visible in the image is the San Juan River which separates Costa Rica from Nicaragua. The dark lines near the coast are caused by a ramified river system discharging water from the tropical rain forest into the Caribbean Sea.
oceanic phenomena Current Fronts
ERS-1 SAR strip acquired over the coastal waters at the east coast of Australia. The East-Australian Current, which is the western boundary current of the South Pacific, is clearly visible as a broad bright band.
oceanic phenomena Estuaries
ERS-2 SAR image showing the frontal boundary between the fresh water outflow from the river Kutai in Borneo and the salty water of Macassar Strait. The form of the frontal boundary seems to mirror the water outflow from the various river arms.
oceanic phenomena Intertidal Zone
The ERS-1 SAR image shows a strip of intertidal mud or sand flat exposed along the coast during low tide. This intertidal zone extends as far as two kilometres away from the high tide coastline. The mud or sand flat appears dark in the synthetic aperture radar image due to its generally smooth surface.
oceanic phenomena Oceanic Eddies
ERS-1 SAR image showing extensive oceanic eddy field in the Pacific Ocean west of the Japanese island Hokkaido. Here the eddies become visible because the surface currents associated with them entrain (natural) slicks floating on the sea surface.
oceanic phenomena Oceanic Internal Waves
ERS-1 SAR image showing sea surface manifestations of an internal wave packet that has propagated east. The dark line intersecting the internal wave packet originates from a ship which has discharged oil en route.
oceanic phenomena Oceanic Wakes
A wake pattern is visible in the lower left-hand section of the ERS-2 SAR image behind the island of Lü Tao. It seems to be generated by the interaction of the northward flowing Kuroshio Current with the island. But also other frontal features are visible on this image which are difficult to explain.
oceanic phenomena Oil Pollution
Part of the sea area in the South China Sea crossed by the main shipping lane between Singapore and Far East Asian ports. This sea area northeast of Singapore seems to be a preferred area for discharging oil from ships.
oceanic phenomena Ship Wakes
In this ERS-2 SAR image a ship followed by a long turbulent wake is visible. At a distance of 1-3 shiplengths behind the ship the wake is associated with increased sea surface roughness. Further away from the ship the turbulence causes damping of the short wind waves (Bragg waves) and thus a reduction of the backscattered radar power.
oceanic phenomena Underwater Bottom Topography
ERS-1 SAR image of the Xinchuan Gang Shoals at the east coast of China north of Shanghai.
oceanic phenomena Upwelling
ERS-2 SAR strip along the coast of Namibia. The wave-like features visible in the right-hand section of the image are sand dunes in the Namibia desert. It is known that at this coast strong upwellings occur. Very likely the dark band stretching along the coast is an upwelling area.
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During the last 25 years about 50 Earth Observation campaigns have been conducted including ground-based, air-borne, balloon-borne, ship-borne and small satellite experiments.

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