Standard Article

Radar Polarimetry

  1. Mark A. Sletten1,
  2. David J. Mc Laughlin2

Published Online: 15 APR 2005

DOI: 10.1002/0471654507.eme343

Encyclopedia of RF and Microwave Engineering

Encyclopedia of RF and Microwave Engineering

How to Cite

Sletten, M. A. and Mc Laughlin, D. J. 2005. Radar Polarimetry. Encyclopedia of RF and Microwave Engineering. .

Author Information

  1. 1

    Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC

  2. 2

    University of Massachusetts, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Amherst, Massachusetts

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2005


This article summarizes the fundamentals of radar polarimetry and gives examples of related applications and research. The mathematical foundation is described first. This discussion includes explanations of the various ways in which polarized and partially polarized electromagnetic waves can be described and how formalisms are used to express the polarimetric scattering properties of objects and surfaces. The scattering, Mueller, covariance, and coherency matrices embody these formalisms. Some practical aspects of polarimetric radar design are then discussed, and the article concludes by summarizing applications of polarimetry and areas of active research, including scattering studies, image classification, contrast enhancement, meteorology, and topographic mapping.


  • radar;
  • polarimetry;
  • electromagnetic scattering;
  • coherence;
  • scattering matrix;
  • Mueller matrix;
  • polarization synthesis;
  • target classification