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.
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