This study analyzed the noise equivalent sigma zero (NESZ) and ocean wind sensitivity for Chinese C-band Gaofen-3 (GF-3) quad-polarization synthetic aperture radar (SAR) measurements to facilitate further operational wind extraction from GF-3 data. Data from the GF-3 quad-polarization SAR and collocated winds from both NOAA/NCEP Global Forecast System (GFS) atmospheric model and National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) buoys were used in the analysis. For NESZ, the co-polarization was slightly higher compared to the cross-polarization. Regarding co-polarization and cross-polarization, NESZ was close to RadarSAT-2 and Sentinel-1 A. Wind sensitivity was analyzed by evaluating the dependence on winds in terms of normalized radar cross-sections (NRCS) and polarization combinations. The closest geophysical model function (GMF) and the polarization ratio (PR) model to GF-3 data were determined by comparing data and the model results. The dependence of co-polarized NRCS on wind speed and azimuth angle was consistent with the proposed GMF models. The combination of CMOD5 and CMOD5.N was considered to be the closest GMF in co-polarization. The cross-polarized NRCS exhibited a strong linear relationship with moderate wind speeds higher than 4 m·s−1
, but a weak correlation with the azimuth angle. The proposed model was considered as the closest GMF in cross-polarization. For polarization combinations, PR and polarization difference (PD) were considered. PR increased only with the incidence angle, whereas PD increased with wind speed and varied with azimuth angle. There were three very close PR models and each can be considered as the closest. Preliminary results indicate that GF-3 quad-polarization data are valid and have the ability to extract winds in each polarization.
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