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Course Materials - InSAR Processing and Theory with GMTSAR

Photo of 2015 GMTSAR course participants and instructors
2015 GMTSAR course participants and instructors

Homework: Finish by the beginning of the course.

  • GMT5SAR can be run on any laptop with a UNIX system (csh) and at least 4 Gbytes of internal memory. If you don’t have this capability, you can borrow a computer at the short course or login to one of our desktop computers.
  • HOMEWORK 1 - UNIX and csh/tcsh

    We will use UNIX commands for all InSAR processing so one should be able to do the basics. Go through each tutorial of the UNIX Tutorial for Beginners unless your are already a UNIX whiz.

    You will need to have a basic text editor available for this exercise. Common UNIX text editors are vi or emacs. The following web site has an extensive list: List of text editors

    Note that to do this exercise your computer must have the C-shell (or bash) installed as well as a C-compiler installed. If you have trouble with these installations please send e-mail questions.

    Tutorial 8 is especially important. Each type of unix will have slight variations in the .tcshrc or .cshrc file. The default shell on many systems today is bash. GMTSAR is based on the tcsh/csh shell so make sure csh is installed.

    After going throughout the tutorial and setting up your .tcshrc or .cshrc (or .bashrc) file, please send David Sandwell a copy of that file with embedded comments on your custom additions.

  • HOMEWORK 2 - Generic Mapping Tools (GMT5)

    Remove old versions of NETCDF and GMT from your computer unless you are 100% sure you have the latest complete installation including the source code. Many problems related to the installation of GMT5SAR are due to having an old installation of GMT. Installations can be done in a variety of ways. Here is a web page describing the installation options:

    To make sure everything is working properly, you must close all your terminal windows and start new ones. Make sure you are running csh/tcsh in each window by typing the command csh or tcsh. Then type the command ‘gmt grdinfo’ to make sure the GMT5 programs are in your path.

    If you are not familiar with GMT5, then go through the GMT5 Tutorial at the following web site:

    The last part of this exercise is to make a map of the area where you live using topography data from the following web site:

    Use this on-line tool to extract a 1-degree grid of elevations for the area where you live. Use GMT5 to make a shaded relief map and send the resulting postscript file. This same tool will be used to prepare digital elevation models for InSAR processing.

    On the first day of class we will be showing the topography maps you made as part of HW2.   If you have not sent a map please send it before Monday.  


    The third assignment before the workshop has 3 parts. Part 1 is to install Google Earth. Part 2 is to read the review paper by Massonnet and Feigl 1998. Here is the link:

    Part 3 is to install GMT5SAR. Go to the following web site and follow the link to the Wiki where there are instructions:

    Add GMT5SAR to your path

    Note: If you are using a Mac OS X and macport, make sure change the following environmental variables in your .cshrc or .tcshrc or .bashrc file before compiling:

    • for tcsh/csh
    • setenv GMT5SAR YourPathTo/GMT5SAR
    • setenv PATH $GMT5SAR/bin:"$PATH"
    • for bash
    • export GMT5SAR=YourPathTo/GMT5SAR
    • export PATH=$GMT5SAR/bin:$PATH

    If you are using Linux, make the corresponding changes as Mac OS X. Installing GMT5SAR on LINUX is a bit of a challenge. If it seems impossible then try installing GMT4 and the GMTSAR (V4). If you do find a good method for installing GMT5SAR on LINUX please send it and we’ll add it to the WIKI.

    Logout and login again to activate the shell. Type the following three commands to make sure things are installed properly:

    • % esarp
    • % ALOS_baseline
    • % p2p_ALOS.csh

    If this all works then you can start InSAR processing. There are example data sets with README.txt instructions at the following site:

  • HOMEWORK 4 - SAR Data Access

    The purpose of this assignment is to familiarize yourself with where and how to get SAR data. You can use the Seamless SAR Archive (SSARA) tools to search for data at UNAVCO, ASF, and Supersites:

    The GUIs provide a way to select an area of interest and see what data is available. Once you determine what data is available and what archive has the data, refer to the WInSAR Wiki for details about the various SAR archives and what needs to be done to access data:

    The SSARA GitHub repository provides command line tools for searching and downloading. Clone the repository to your local machine and familiarize yourself with the SSARA federated query tool. The SSARA wiki ( also provides details about the API parameters and input values.

    To clone the repo:

    • % git clone
    • For help and examples: % ./SSARA/ --help


Last modified: 2021-02-10  16:23:56  America/Denver