AbstractThis study comprises the analysis and the interpretation of the coherent and the noncoherent parts of a coherent-on-receive microwave radar at grazing incidence conditions. The Doppler measurement is an extension of standard civil marine radar technology. While intensity images require interpretation based on understanding the underlying imaging mechanism, the Doppler signal measures the motion of an area of sea surface and is therefore closely related to the wave physics. Both the measured Doppler signal and the backscatter intensity signal are suitable for surface inversion and give almost identical surface elevations. A statistical comparison with a nearby buoy showed good correlation for the significant wave height and the peak period. By comparing the Doppler signal and the amplitude in the backscatter, the study amends the understanding of imaging mechanisms in marine radars at grazing incidence.