Continuous observations since 1991 by using synthetic aperture radar (SAR) on board the Almaz1, ERS-1/2, JERS-1, and RADARSAT satellites support the well-known fact that oceanic eddies are distributed worldwide in the ocean. The paper is devoted to an evaluation of the potential of SAR for detection of eddies and vortical motions in the ocean. The classification of typical vortical features in the ocean detected in remote sensing images (visible, infrared, and SAR) is presented as well as available information on their spatial and temporal scales. Examples of the Almaz-1 and ERS-1/2 SAR images showing different eddy types, such as rings, spiral eddies of the open ocean, eddies behind islands and in bays, spin-off eddies and mushroom-like structures (vortex dipoles) are given and discussed. It is shown that a common feature for most of the eddies detected in the SAR images is a broad spectrum of spatial scales, spiral shape and shear nature. It is concluded that the spaceborne SARs give valuable information on ocean eddies, especially in combination with visible and infrared satellite data.
Volume 129, 2020
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