Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imaging of the ocean surface promises to be an important tool in ocean remote sensing. The long-range goal of the work reported here is to understand SAR imaging in sufficient detail that airborne and/or spaceborne SARs become reliable tools for oceanic research and operational use.

TOWARD (Tower Ocean Wave and Radar Dependence Experiment) [see Shemdin, 1988, 1990], a predecessor experiment to the SAR and X-Band Ocean Nonlinearities Experiment at Chesapeake Light Tower (SAXON:CLT), provided a comprehensive data set to test the theoretical concepts advanced on SAR imaging of the ocean surface. A significant achievement of TOWARD is determining that none of the then available theories on SAR imaging of long surface waves could explain all the SAR observations satisfactorily. Improved models immediately followed as a consequence of the TOWARD finding. In spite of the significant insights gained in TOWARD, gaps remain in understanding radar backscatter from the sea surface.