FFSAR- Coastal

Fully Focused SAR Altimetry and Innovative River Level Gauges for Coastal Monitoring

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FFSAR-Coastal is a project funded by ESA to apply the Fully Focused SAR altimetry processor on Sentinel-3 data and evaluate its potential to make a significant new contribution to coastal and estuarine monitoring systems. Innovative in situ water level gauges will be used for validation. Two different environments will be considered:

  • The Severn Estuary and river: A highly dynamic mixed tidal estuary environment, the confluence between a river and its estuary experiencing large tidal range and strong tidal currents.
  • The lower Rhone Delta and Camargue: A low lying, flat river delta and wetland environment, susceptible to inundation and rising water levels.

By studying these two very different environments, the potential applicability and benefits offered by FF SAR altimeter data in other coastal, estuarine and delta locations will be demonstrated.

Applications will focus on the benefits offered by the very high along-track resolution in water level and backscatter that can be provided through FF SAR processing. User agencies and groups from the two regions will be consulted to identify gaps and priorities for monitoring requirements. Time series will be provided by autonomous in situ microstation gauges, drone-mounted instruments will be used to provide water level profiles between the fixed locations and satellite tracks.

Latest news

Satellite Altimetry and FFSAR Tutorial:

Marco Restano from ESA has provided a short tutorial on satellite altimetry and FFSAR processing, click on this link to view it

Final VorteX.io microstation installations (6th Sept 2022):

Two further VorteX.io microstations were successfully installed at locations on the Severn Estuary coast on 6th September, on the A48 bridge over the River Usk in Newport, and on the Grand Pier at Weston Super Mare. This completes the installation of new gauges for the project.

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The micro-station installations at Newport (left) and Weston Super Mare (right)


Map of the Sentinel 3A (brown) and 3B (green) satellite tracks and micro-station sites (yellow pins). Google Earth

First VorteX.io microstations installed (27th July 2022):

Two VorteX.io microstations were sucessfully installed on bridges near the Rhone outflow into the Gulf of Lion on the 27th July,  at Port Saint Louis, and Port de Bouc - Fos sur Mer.

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The micro-station installations at Port Saint Louis (left) and Port de Bouc - Fos sur Mer (right)


Map of the Sentinel 3A (brown) and 3B (green) satellite tracks and micro-station sites (yellow pins). Google Earth

Study areas

Severn Estuary


Rhone Delta



Project Manager: David Cotton, SatOC (d.cotton at satoc.eu)


If you are interested in accessing any of the data sets contact the Project Manager at the above address.

Project activities

Task 1 (March 2022 to June 2023):
User Engagement and Application Road Map

  • Review with stakeholders to identify key issues and requirements.
  • Workshops to present project results and invite recommendations.
  • Development of proposals for implementing a long term solution to meet user needs, adding to existing networks.
  • The output will be a publicly available Application Road Map

Task 2 (March 2022 to June 2023): Fully Focused SAR processing and water level analysis

  • DTU will implement the FF SAR SMAP processor and apply to Sentinel 3A and 3B data over the two study regions (Severn Estuary in the UK, and the Rhone delta in southern France)
  • The processed FF SAR data will be validated against in situ data, and evaluated in terms of its ability to map small scale coastal features.
  • Data Sets: data will be made available online via links on the project website
  • Technical Report: Validation and evaluation results will be provided in a Product Validation Report

Task 3 (March 2022 to June 2023): Installation and operation of microstations, drone campaign

  • VorteX.Io will install 2 micro-stations in each study region, as soon as possible to maximise the time series.
  • A drone survey will be carried out in each region to perform water surface measurements to link the in-situ data to the satellite tracks.
  • Outputs
  • Data Sets: Campaign data will be made available via links on the project website
  • Campaign Report: A Campaign Report will provide analysis of data and summarise the operations.


Project Kick Off (March 2022): Planning and confirmation of project timetable

User Engagement Workshop (17th May 2022):  (Online meeting) Introduce project, gather feedback from users in the two locations.

Mid Term Review (September 2022):  Review of stakeholder input, presentation of interim data sets and validation results.

User Workshops (April 2023): Presentation of project results, gather feedback and recommendations from users.

Final Review (June 2023): Presentation and review of project results.

Project team

satoc                  noc

dtuspace            vortex.io

CCO                ESA

Satellite Oceanographic Consultants Ltd 2022