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A Study of the Intensity of Tropical Cyclone Idai Using Dual-Polarization Sentinel-1 Data

State Key Laboratory of Marine Environmental Science, Xiamen University, Xiamen 361005, China
College of Computer and Information Engineering, Xiamen University of Technology, Xiamen 361024, China
Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Research Center and Geophysical Institute, University of Bergen, N-5006 Bergen, Norway
Center for Remote Sensing, College of Earth, Ocean and Environment, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA
Joint Institute for Coastal Research and Management (Joint-CRM), University of Delaware/Xiamen University, USA/China. Newark, DE 19716, USA/Xiang-An, Xiamen 361005, China
Fujian Engineering Research Center for Ocean Remote Sensing Big Data, Xiamen 361005, China
College of Harbour and Environmental Engineering, Jimei University, Xiamen 361021, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(23), 2837;
Received: 18 September 2019 / Revised: 20 November 2019 / Accepted: 25 November 2019 / Published: 29 November 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Ocean Remote Sensing)
Monitoring the intensity and size of a tropical cyclone (TC) is a challenging task, and is important for reducing losses of lives and property. In this study, we use Idai, one of the deadliest TCs on record in the Southern Hemisphere, as an example. Dual-polarization synthetic aperture radar (SAR) measurements from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission are used to examine the TC structure and intensity. The wind speed is estimated and compared using well known C-band model functions based on calibrated cross-polarization SAR images. Because of the relatively high noise floor of the Sentinel-1 data, wind speeds under 20 m/s from cross-polarization models are ignored and replaced by low to moderate wind speeds retrieved from co-polarization radar signals. Wind fields retrieved from the co- and cross-polarization model results are then merged together to estimate the TC size and the TC fullness scale, a concept related to the wind structure of a storm. Idai has a very strong wind speed and fullness structure, indicating that it was indeed a very intense storm. The approach demonstrates that open and freely available Sentinel-1 SAR data is a unique dataset to estimate the potential destructiveness of similar natural disasters like Idai. View Full-Text
Keywords: SAR; tropical cyclone; southeastern Africa; Sentinel-1; sea surface wind SAR; tropical cyclone; southeastern Africa; Sentinel-1; sea surface wind
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MDPI and ACS Style

Yu, P.; Johannessen, J.A.; Yan, X.-H.; Geng, X.; Zhong, X.; Zhu, L. A Study of the Intensity of Tropical Cyclone Idai Using Dual-Polarization Sentinel-1 Data. Remote Sens. 2019, 11, 2837.

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