Dual-Polarimetric Descriptors From Sentinel-1 GRD SAR Data for Crop Growth Assessment

Narayanarao Bhogapurapu, Subhadip Dey, Avik Bhattacharya, Dipankar Mandal, Juan M. Lopez-Sanchez, Heather McNairn, Carlos López-Martínez, Y.S. Rao, “Dual-polarimetric descriptors from Sentinel-1 GRD SAR data for crop growth assessment,” ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, vol. 178, p. 20-35, Aug 2021

Summary

➲Full paper

Accurate and high-resolution spatio-temporal information about crop phenology obtained from Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data is an essential component for crop management and yield estimation at a local scale. Crop growth monitoring studies seldom exploit complete polarimetric information contained in dual-pol GRD SAR data. In this study, we propose three polarimetric descriptors: the pseudo scattering-type parameter (θc), the pseudo scattering entropy parameter (Hc), and the co-pol purity parameter (mc) from dual-pol S1 GRD SAR data. We also introduce a novel unsupervised clustering framework using Hc and θc with six clustering zones to represent various scattering mechanisms. We implemented the proposed algorithm on the cloud-based Google Earth Engine (GEE) platform for Sentinel-1 SAR data. We have shown the sensitivity of these descriptors over a time series of data for wheat and canola crops at a test site in Canada. From the leaf development stage to the flowering stage for both crops, the pseudo scattering-type parameter θc changes by approximately 17°. Moreover, within the entire phenology window, both mc and Hc varies by about 0.6. The effectiveness of θc and Hc to cluster the phenological stages for the two crops is also evident from the clustering plot. During the leaf development stage, about 90% of the sampling points were clustered into the low to medium entropy scattering zone for both the crops. Throughout the flowering stage, the entire cluster shifted into the high entropy vegetation scattering zone. Finally, during the ripening stage, the clusters of sample points were split between the high entropy vegetation scattering zone and the high entropy distributed scattering zone, with >55% of the sampling points in the high entropy distributed scattering zone. This innovative clustering framework will facilitate the operational use of S1 GRD SAR data for agricultural applications.

Proposed schematic workflow to derive the dual-polarimetric descriptors from Sentinel-1 dual-pol GRD SAR data on the GEE platform.

Book: Polarimetric Synthetic Aperture Radar

➲ Open access book

Our open access book “Polarimetric Synthetic Aperture Radar – Principles and Applications”, funded by the European Space Agency, has been recently published by Springer. This open access book focuses on the practical application of electromagnetic polarimetry principles in Earth remote sensing with an educational purpose. In the last decade, the operations from fully polarimetric synthetic aperture radar such as the Japanese ALOS/PalSAR, the Canadian Radarsat-2 and the German TerraSAR-X and their easy data access for scientific use have developed further the research and data applications at L,C and X band. As a consequence, the wider distribution of polarimetric data sets across the remote sensing community boosted activity and development in polarimetric SAR applications, also in view of future missions. Numerous experiments with real data from space borne platforms are shown, with the aim of giving an up-to-date and complete treatment of the unique benefits of fully polarimetric synthetic aperture radar data in five different domains: forest, agriculture, cryosphere, urban and oceans.

Book chapters:

  • Basic Principles of SAR Polarimetry by C. López-Martínez, E. Pottier
  • Forest Applications by K. P. Papathanassiou, S. R. Cloude, M. Pardini, M. J. Quiñones, D. Hoekman, L. Ferro-Famil et al.
  • Agriculture and Wetland Applications by J. M. Lopez-Sanchez, J. D. Ballester-Berman, F. Vicente-Guijalba, S. R. Cloude, H. McNairn, J. Shang et al.
  • Cryosphere Applications by I. Hajnsek, G. Parrella, A. Marino, T. Eltoft, M. Necsoiu, L. Eriksson et al.
  • Urban Applications by E. Colin-Koeniguer, N. Trouve, Y. Yamaguchi, Y. Huang, L. Ferro-Famil, V. D. Navarro Sanchez et al.
  • Ocean Applications by M. Migliaccio, F. Nunziata, A. Marino, C. Brekke, S. Skrunes
Book cover.

A Model-free Four Component Scattering Power Decomposition for Polarimetric SAR Data

S. Dey, A. Bhattacharya, A. C. Frery, C. López-Martínez and Y. S. Rao, “A Model-free Four Component Scattering Power Decomposition for Polarimetric SAR Data,” in IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing, Early Access, 2021

➲ Full paper

Summary

Target decomposition methods of polarimetric Synthetic Aperture Radar (PolSAR) data explain scattering information from a target. In this regard, several conventional model-based methods utilize scattering power components to analyze polarimetric SAR data. However, the typical hierarchical process to enumerate power components uses various branching conditions, leading to several limitations. These techniques assume \textit{ad hoc} scattering models within a radar resolution cell. Therefore, the use of several models makes the computation of scattering powers ambiguous. Some common issues of model-based decompositions are related to the compensation of the orientation angle about the radar line of sight and the negative power components’ occurrence. We propose a model-free four-component scattering power decomposition that alleviates these issues. In the proposed approach, we use the non-conventional 3D Barakat degree of polarization to obtain the scattered electromagnetic wave’s polarization state. The degree of polarization is used to obtain the even-bounce, odd-bounce, and diffused scattering power components. Along with this, a measure of target scattering asymmetry is also proposed, which is then suitably utilized to obtain the helicity power. All the power components are roll-invariant, non-negative and unambiguous. In addition to this, we propose an unsupervised clustering technique that preserves the dominance of the scattering power components for different targets. This clustering technique assists in understanding the importance of diverse scattering mechanisms based on target characteristics. The technique adequately captures the clusters’ variations from one target to another according to their physical and geometrical properties.

IEEE-GRSS Distinguished Lecturer

From July 1st, 2020, and for a period of two years, I have been appointed as Distinguished Lecturer of the IEEE-GRSS Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society.

The Distinguished Lecturer Program is a service of the GRSS and its members to
support the chapter activities. The goal is to provide chapters with access to with
leading professionals in geoscience and remote sensing and discuss novel topics in
current research. This is an opportunity for the GRSS membership to hear interesting
talks about work being done in in geoscience and remote sensing.

In particular, I will take car of the following topics:

  • Basics of SAR Polarimetry,
  • SAR Polarimetry: Theory and Applications,
  • SAR, SAR Polarimetry & Multitemporal #SAR Statistical Description

➲ More information

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

➲ Full paper

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.