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HF Radar Systems for Wave and Current Measurement

Oceanology'98 conference, Proceedings Volume 3, ISBN 0 900254 22 X, pp. 423...433, 1998.
Abstract - - HF radar in oceanography makes use of backscatter of electromagnetic waves of 10 m to 50 m wavelength from the rough sea surface. In contrast to microwaves, these electromagnetic waves travel along the sea surface and follow the curvature of the earth beyond the horizon. Dependening on the wavelength, working ranges between 50 km and 300 km can be realized. The backscattered signal is Doppler shifted by the movement of the ocean waves and can be analysed to derive ocean surface current and wave parameters. Several HF radars have been developed all over the world and significant progress both in technology and algorithms has been achieved since the discovery of the basic physics by D. D. Crombie (1955).

While the measurement of ocean surface current is straightforward and has been validated many times, the algorithm to derive ocean wave height and directional spectra is much more complex. This paper discusses some technical aspects on the way towards an optimal system and shows some examples measured by the HF radar WERA (WEllen RAdar), which has been recently developed at the University of Hamburg. WERA uses the University of Hamburg algorithm to measure surface current and the University of Sheffield algorithm to measure ocean wave height and directional spectra. As the algorithms are applied to the same data set, simultanous measurement of ocean surface current and waves is possible.
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