In this paper, the retrieving significant wave height from X-band marine radar images based on shadow statistics is investigated, since the retrieving accuracy can not be seriously affected by environmental factors and the method has the advantage of without any external reference to calibrate. However, the accuracy of the significant wave height estimated from the radar image acquired at the near-shore area is not ideal. To solve this problem, the effect of water depth is considered in the theoretical derivation of estimated wave height based on the sea surface slope. And then, an improved retrieving algorithm which is suitable for both in deep water area and shallow water area is developed. In addition, the radar data are sparsely processed in advance in order to achieve high quality edge image for the requirement of shadow statistic algorithm, since the high resolution radar images will lead to angle-blurred for the image edge detection and time-consuming in the estimation of sea surface slope. The data acquired from Pingtan Test Base in Fujian Province were used to verify the effectiveness of the proposed algorithm. The experimental results demonstrate that the improved method which takes into account the water depth is more efficient and effective and has better performance for retrieving significant wave height in the shallow water area, compared to the in situ buoy data as the ground truth and that of the existing shadow statistic method.
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