Scanning Radar Altimeter (SRA) Sea Surface Topography and High-Resolution Directional Wave Measurements


Marshall D. Earle, Edward J. Walsh, Janice D. Boyd

Funding Source

Naval Research Laboratory, Stennis Space Center

Office of Naval Research


The primary objective is to obtain sea surface topography and high resolution directional wave spectra from just beyond the surf zone to deep water over a region north and south of the FRF. Data will be used for investigation of methods for utilization of data from different sensors (in-situ wave and surf sensors of various types, aircraft sensors, and remote sensing satellite sensors) and models to develop products and procedures to support Navy littoral operations. A secondary objective is to examine use of the SRA for simultaneous measurement of incident wave conditions, surf conditions, and beach topography for applications to surf modeling.


A NASA aircraft (P-3 or C-130) will be used to collect SRA data for two days during October. The aircraft will be on standby at Wallops Island, VA. Data will be obtained during several hours each day for a selected day with medium height waves (approximately 1.5 m) and a selected day with high wave heights (greater than 2 m). Topographic sea surface maps and high-resolution directional wave spectra will be determined with spatial coverage over the continental shelf up to the surf zone. Some overflights will be made to simultaneously obtain incident directional wave spectra just beyond the surf zone, surf elevation topography (limited by system spatial resolution), and on-land beach topography. Results will be compared with data from other sensors as well as with wave and surf model inputs and outputs.

Sensitivity tests and other mathematical procedures will be employed to examine best ways to utilize data from different sensors and models.

For a list of addresses of the investigators involved in Duck 94 click here.