Remote Sensing of Precipitation Using Reflected GNSS Signals: Response Analysis of Polarimetric Observations
Journal article, 2021

For the first time, rain effects on the polarimetric observations of the global navigation satellite system reflectometry (GNSS-R) are investigated. The physical feasibility of tracking the modifications in the surface roughness by rain splash and the surface salinity by the accumulation of freshwater is theoretically discussed. An empirical analysis is carried out using measurements of a coastal GNSS-R station with two side-looking antennas in right- and left-handed circular polarizations (RHCP and LHCP). Discernible drops in RHCP and LHCP powers are observed during rain over a calm sea. The power drop becomes larger at higher elevation angles. The average LHCP power drops by ≈ 5 dB at an elevation angle of 45°. The amplitude of the correlation sum shows a dampening, responding to rain rate systematically. The LHCP observations show higher sensitivity to rainfall compared to RHCP observations. The retrieved standard deviation of surface heights shows a steady increase with the rain rate. The derived surface salinity shows a decrease at rains higher than 10 mm/h. This study confirms the potential under environmental conditions of the GNSS-R ground-based station, e.g., with salinity mostly lower than 30 psu, over a calm sea, being a starting point for future investigations.


polarimetric observations

Wind speed

Global navigation satellite system

Salinity (geophysical)

Surface roughness


sea surface salinity (SSS)

Sea measurements

Sea surface

GNSS-reflectometry (GNSS-R)



Milad Asgarimehr

German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ)

Mostafa Hoseini

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

Maximilian Semmling

German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Markus Ramatschi

German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ)

Adrian Camps

Polytechnic University of Catalonia

Hossein Nahavandchi

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

Rüdiger Haas

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Onsala Space Observatory, Space Geodesy and Geodynamics

J Wickert

Technische Universität Berlin

IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing

0196-2892 (ISSN)

Vol. In Press

Driving Forces

Sustainable development


Basic sciences


Onsala Space Observatory

Subject Categories


Signal Processing

Geosciences, Multidisciplinary



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5/5/2021 2