2022 Short Course: InSAR Processing and Theory with GMTSAR

Dates: July 11-15, 2022, with pre-course homework sessions in June
Times: 10:00am – 2:00pm PDT
Venue: Virtual

Course Description

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.

Learning Goals

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.

Application Process

Participants will apply to participate as we expect demand to exceed capacity. Decisions will be made on responses to prompts in the application. Priority will be given to applicants from UNAVCO member institutions, and who need the training to conduct research in the next year. (Check to see if your institution is a member of the UNAVCO consortium.) 

Applications are now closed.

Brief Agenda

June 17, 2022
*10:00am to 12:00pm PDT
– Breakout meeting with instructor and ~15 students
– Introductions
June 24, 2022
*10:00am -12:00pm PDT
– Breakout meeting with instructor and ~15 students
– Homework 1 and 2
July 1, 2022
*10:00am -12:00pm PDT
– Breakout meeting with instructor and ~15 students
– Homework 3 and 4
July 11-12, 2022
*10:00am -1:00pm PDT
– 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 13, 2022
*10:00am -12:00pm PDT
– Breakout meeting with instructor and ~15 students
– Student presentations
July 15, 2022
*10:00am -1:00pm PDT
– Plenary session, all students and instructors
– Selected student presentations
*Note the times of the first three sessions will be adjusted to be convenient for the time zones of students (i.e., Europe, Mideast, Asia-Pacific, North America)

Prerequisite, Computers, and Data

Participants will use their own UNIX capable laptop computer with at least 12 GB of memory and 40 GB of free disk space. Computer code, documentation, and sample data sets can be downloaded from the following sites:


  • Katherine Guns, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
  • Eric Lindsey, University of New Mexico
  • Kathryn Materna, U.S. Geological Survey
  • 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 Texas at Austin


Please contact Xiaohua Xu (xiaohua.xuat symbolaustin.utexas.edu), David Sandwell (dsandwellat symbolucsd.edu), or communityat symbolunavco.org



  • Date(s): July 11-15, 2022
  • Location: Virtual
  • Deadline: April 20, 2022