Microwave scattering from surf zone waves Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/x920g1257

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  • Wave breaking in the surf zone is an important forcing mechanism on the generation of nearshore currents and in the driving of sediment transport. At the same time, wave breaking can have significant spatial and temporal variability that needs to be accounted for in the description of nearshore processes. Remote sensors are best suited to collect wave breaking measurements due to their large footprint and synoptic capabilities, but in order to extract quantitative wave parameters a proper understanding of the imaging mechanisms is essential. Microwave sensors have been shown to be able to measure wave parameters in deep water, but in the surf zone many of the assumptions the algorithms are based upon do not hold. Additionally, the dynamics of breaking waves are different and may affect in a yet determined way the signal. This dissertation first intends to address an observational gap regarding surf zone microwave measurements. A novel combination of synchronous, large coverage marine radar, calibrated pulsed Doppler radar and video observations from a field site enable the analysis of the evolution and characteristics of the wave signature. The combined data sets yield superior discrimination rates between breaking and non-breaking waves. Discrimination also allows the study of the microwave scattering by source, where active breaking is separated from remnant foam and steepening waves. Results show that the backscattered power from breaking waves, specifically from the wave roller, is a several dB larger than that of foam and steepening waves and independent of the environmental conditions and polarization state. While similar results have been obtained for deep water waves and variety of scattering models have been proposed, it is found that none of the models can describe all the data. Additionally, most of the models neglect the roller morphology. Therefore, in the last section a scattering model is introduced, in which the roller is treated as a volume where a collection of water droplets embedded in air can scatter incoherently. Multiple interactions of the scattered fields between particles and the boundaries are also accounted for. Though the model formulation is complex, it depends on a few physical parameters (diameter, volume fraction, medium permittivity) and no calibration constants. Comparison against data shows that the model does a reasonable job in predicting the observed scattering levels, polarization response and grazing angle dependencies, although is not capable to reproduce the maximum scattered levels observed and predicts polarization ratios always less than unity.
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