Coastline Detection Based on Sentinel-1 Time-Series for Ship and Flood Monitoring Applications

R. Pelich, M. Chini, R. Hostache, P. Matgen and C. López-Martínez, “Coastline Detection Based on Sentinel-1 Time Series for Ship- and Flood-Monitoring Applications,” in IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters, Early Access, 2020

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Summary

This letter addresses the use of the Sentinel-1 time series with the aim of proposing an automatic and unsupervised coastline detection method that averages the dynamical variations of coastal areas over a limited period of time, e.g., one year. First, we propose applying a temporal averaging filter that allows the temporal variations in coastal areas, e.g., due to tides or vegetation, to be encapsulated, and, at the same time, the speckle to be reduced, without decreasing the spatial resolution of the synthetic aperture radar (SAR) time series. Then, based on the distinctive backscattering values of the sea and land pixels, we will employ an iterative hierarchical tiling method in order to accurately characterize the two classes using bimodal distribution. The distribution is then segmented by a thresholding and region-growing procedure to separate the sea and land classes. A large-scale quantitative comparison between the SAR-derived and open street map (OSM) coastlines allows for a numerical evaluation of the results, i.e., an overall agreement ranging from 80% to 90%. In addition, Sentinel-2 images are used to evaluate the estimated SAR coastline qualitatively. Furthermore, the benefits of having an accurate SAR coastline are shown in the case of two well-known Earth observation-monitoring applications, ship detection, and floodwater mapping.

Estimation of Vegetation Structure Parameters From SMAP Radar Intensity Observations

T. Jagdhuber, C. Montzka, C. López-Martínez, M. J. Baur, M. Link, M. Piles, N. N. Das and F. Jonard, “Estimation of Vegetation Structure Parameters From SMAP Radar Intensity Observations,” in IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Early Access, 2020

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Summary

In this article, we present a multipolarimetric estimation approach for two model-based vegetation structure parameters (shape AP and orientation distribution \Psi of the main canopy elements). The approach is based on a reduced observation set of three incoherent (no phase information) polarimetric backscatter intensities (|S_{hh}|^2, |S_{hv}|^2, and |S_{vv}|^2) combined with a two-parameter (AP and \Psi) discrete scatterer model of vegetation. The objective is to understand whether this confined set of observations contains enough information to estimate the two vegetation structure parameters from the L-band radar signals. In order to disentangle soil and vegetation scattering influences on these signals and ultimately perform a vegetation-only retrieval of vegetation shape AP and orientation distribution \Psi, we use the subpixel spatial heterogeneity expressed by the covariation of co- and cross-polarized backscatter \Gamma_{PP-PQ} of the neighboring cells and assume it is indicative for the amount of a vegetation-only co-to-cross-polarized backscatter ratio \mu_{PP-PQ}. The ratio-based retrieval approach enables a relative (no absolute backscatter) estimation of the vegetation structure parameters which is more robust compared to retrievals with absolute terms. The application of the developed algorithm on global L-band Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) radar data acquired from April to July 2015 indicates the potential and limitations of estimating these two parameters when no fully polarimetric data are available. A focus study on six different regions of interest, spanning land cover from barren land to tropical rainforest, shows a steady increase in orientation distribution toward randomly oriented volumes and a continuous decrease in shape arriving at dipoles for tropical vegetation. A comparison with independent data sets of vegetation height and above-ground biomass confirms this consistent and meaningful retrieval of AP and \Psi. The retrieved shapes and orientation distributions represent the main vegetation elements matching the literature results from model-based decompositions of fully polarimetric L-band data at the SMAP spatial resolution. Based on our findings, AP and \Psi can be directly applied for parameterizing the vegetation scattering component of model-based polarimetric decompositions. This should facilitate decomposition into ground and vegetation scattering components and improve the retrieval of soil parameters (moisture and roughness) under vegetation.

Polarimetric SAR Time Series Change Analysis Over Agricultural Areas

A. Alonso-González, C. López-Martínez, K. P. Papathanassiou and I. Hajnsek, “Polarimetric SAR Time Series Change Analysis Over Agricultural Areas,” in IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Early Access, 2020

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Summary

This article proposes a change detection and analysis technique for monitoring the phenological development of agricultural vegetation by means of multitemporal Polarimetric Synthetic Aperture Radar (PolSAR) acquisitions. The technique relies on the generalized eigendecomposition of the polarimetric covariance matrices of the individual acquisitions. It both quantifies the magnitude of the change between PolSAR images acquired at different times and also provides an interpretation of occurred change in terms of the modified polarization states. This makes the algorithm suitable for investigating scattering dynamics associated with the phenological development of agricultural vegetation. To aid the interpretation of the changes detected, a representation based on the polarization states affected by the change process is proposed. The technique is evaluated using part of the multitemporal AGRISAR 2006 campaign data set. This data set consists of 12 quad-polarimetric images acquired by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) E-SAR airborne system at L-band from April 2006 to August 2006 over the Demmin test site. It covers large parts of the development cycle of different crop types. As a part of the evaluation, reference ground measurements are used to facilitate the interpretation of the data. The evaluation focuses on five important crop types: wheat, barley, rape, maize, and sugar beet. The results show that the proposed technique is able to detect and characterize different types of changes related to distinct development states of different crop types as the plant growing, maturation, and drying processes.

Sentinel-1 InSAR Coherence for LandCover Mapping: A comparison of multiple feature-based classifiers

Jacob, A., Vicente-Guijalba, F., Lopez-Martinez, C., Lopez-Sanchez, J.M., Litzinger, M., Kristen, H., Mestre-Quereda, A., Ziolkowski, D., Lavalle, M., Notarnicola, C., Suresh, G., Antropov, O., Ge, S., Praks, J., Ban, Y., Pottier, E., Mallorqui, J., Duro, J. & Engdahl, M., “Sentinel-1 InSAR Coherence for LandCover Mapping: A comparison of multiple feature-based classifiers”, IEEE J. Sel. Topics Appl. Earth Observ. Remote Sens., vol. 13, pp. 535-552, 2020.

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Summary

This work investigates and demonstrates the suitability of the Sentinel-1 interferometric coherence for land cover and vegetation mapping. In addition, this study analyses the performance of this feature along with polarisation and intensity products according to different classification strategies and algorithms. Seven different classification work flows were evaluated, covering pixel- and object-based analyses, unsupervised and supervised classification, different machine-learning classifiers, and the various effects of distinct input features in the SAR domain: interferometric coherence, backscattered intensities and polarisation. All classifications followed the Corine land cover nomenclature. Three different study areas in Europe were selected during 2015 and 2016 campaigns to maximise diversity land cover. Overall accuracies (OA), ranging from 70% to 90%, were achieved depending on study area and methodology, considering between 9 and 15 classes. The best results were achieved in the rather flat area of Doñana wetlands National Park in Spain (OA 90%), but even the challenging alpine terrain around the city of Merano in northern Italy (OA 77%), obtained also promising results. The overall potential of Sentinel-1 interferometric coherence for land cover mapping was evaluated as very good. In all cases, coherencebased results provided higher accuracies than intensity-based strategies, considering 12 days of temporal sampling of the Sentinels-1A stack. Both coherence and intensity prove to be complementary observables, increasing the overall accuracies in a combined strategy. The accuracy is expected to increase when Sentinel-1A/B stacks, i.e., 6-day sampling, are considered.

Large-Scale automatic vessel monitoring based on dual-polarization Sentinel-1 and AIS data

Pelich, R.; Chini, M.; Hostache, R.; Matgen, P.; Lopez-Martinez, C.; Nuevo, M.; Ries, P.; Eiden, G. “Large-Scale Automatic Vessel Monitoring Based on Dual-Polarization Sentinel-1 and AIS Data”. Remote Sens. 201911, 1078.

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Summary

This research addresses the use of dual-polarimetric descriptors for automatic large-scale ship detection and characterization from synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data. Ship detection is usually performed independently on each polarization channel and the detection results are merged subsequently. In this study, we propose to make use of the complex coherence between the two polarization channels of Sentinel-1 and to perform vessel detection in this domain. Therefore, an automatic algorithm, based on the dual-polarization coherence, and applicable to entire large scale SAR scenes in a timely manner, is developed. Automatic identification system (AIS) data are used for an extensive and also large scale cross-comparison with the SAR-based detections. The comparative assessment allows us to evaluate the added-value of the dual-polarization complex coherence, with respect to SAR intensity images in ship detection, as well as the SAR detection performances depending on a vessel’s size. The proposed methodology is justified statistically and tested on Sentinel-1 data acquired over two different and contrasting, in terms of traffic conditions, areas: the English Channel the and Pacific coastline of Mexico. The results indicate a very high SAR detection rate, i.e., >80%, for vessels larger than 60 m and a decrease of detection rate up to 40% for smaller size vessels. In addition, the analysis highlights many SAR detections without corresponding AIS positions, indicating the complementarity of SAR with respect to cooperative sources for detecting dark vessels.