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2023 InSAR Processing and Theory with GMTSAR Short Course

Date(s): July 25 - 29, 2023

This course will cover the theory and application of repeat-pass synthetic aperture radar interferometry (InSAR) using the software GMTSAR. Lectures and exercises will be given to teach the basic theoretical aspects of InSAR. Labs will include software installation, running test data sets for standard interferogram formation, as well as more advanced processing for time series with Sentinel-1A TOPS-mode data. Those unfamiliar with the software package GMT are encouraged to also attend the Generic Mapping Tools (GMT) for Geodesy short course. Several of the instructors will be using Jupyter notebooks for the high-level interface. 

Times: TBD

Primary Audience: Graduate and undergraduate students in Earth Science.

Secondary Audience: Early career geoscientists, university, government, or industry.

Learning Objectives

In this course you will learn: 

  • How to use the UNIX shell and install software using a package manager.
  • How to gather a topography grid and make a basic map using GMT.
  • Understand the basic physical principles of SAR and InSAR.
  • Generate interferograms with test data sets. Make your own interferogram(s).
  • (Advanced) Construct InSAR time series using Sentinel-1 data.

Prerequisite, Computers and Data

Course Github

Participants should have some college level math and physics experience. They should be familiar with UNIX and plan to have a computer capable of running this software with at least 12 GB of memory and 40 GB of free disk space. Internet should have enough broadband to handle a stable Zoom virtual meeting environment. A willingness to learn the Generic Mapping Tool for Geodesy (GMT) is also a plus. Computer code, documentation, and sample data sets can be freely downloaded from public sites. 


July 10-21, 2023Small group breakout meetings with instructors and students
July 25 & 26, 2023
view recordings
Plenary session, all students and instructors: 
– Theory of SAR
– Theory of InSAR
– Applications of InSAR
– How to access SAR data and NISAR
– Two-pass interferometry
– InSAR time series
July 27, 2023Small group breakout meetings with instructors and students
July 28, 2023Plenary session, all students and instructors: Selected student presentations


Katherine Guns, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Eric Lindsey, University of New Mexico
Kathryn Materna, U.S. Geological Survey
Wojciech Milczarek, Wroclaw University of Science and Technology
Wesley Neely, Stanford University
David Sandwell, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Xiaopeng Tong, Institute of Geophysics, China Earthquake Administration
Katia Tymofyeyeva, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)
Kang Wang, University of California, Berkeley
Matt Wei, University of Rhode Island
Xiaohua Xu, University of Science and Technology of China


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