Applications of spaceborne radar laboratory data to the study of aeolian processes

Ronald Greeley, Dan G. Blumberg, John F. McHone, Anthony Dobrovolskis, James D. Iversen, Nicholas Lancaster, Keld R. Rasmussen, Stephen D. Wall, Bruce R. White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Aerodynamic roughness (z0) is an important parameter in studies of sand and dust transport, as well as atmospheric circulation models. Aerodynamic roughness is a function of the size and spacing of surface roughness elements and is typically determined at point locations in the field from wind velocity profiles. Because field measurements require complex logistics, z0 values have been obtained for very few localities. If radar can be used to map z0, estimates can be obtained for large areas. In addition, because aerodynamic roughness can change in response to surface processes (e.g., flooding of alluvial surfaces), radar remote sensing could obtain new measurements on short timescales. Both z0 and the radar backscatter coefficient σ0 are dependent on topographic roughness at the submeter scale, and correlation between, these two parameters was developed based on radar data obtained from aircraft (AIRSAR). The Spaceborne Radar Laboratory (SRL) afforded the opportunity to test the correlation for data obtained from orbit. SRL data for sites in Death Valley, California; Lunar Lake, Nevada; and Gobabeb, Namibia, were correlated with wind data and compared with previous radar z0 relations. Correlations between σ0 and z0 for L band (λ = 24 cm) HV (H, vertically and V, vertically polarized modes) L band HH, and C band (λ = 5.6 cm) HV compare favorably with previous studies. Based on these results, maps of z0 values were derived from SRL data for each site, demonstrating the potential to map z0 for large vegetation-free areas from orbit using radar systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number97JE00518
Pages (from-to)10971-10983
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue numberE5
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1997


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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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