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


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.

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.

➲ Open access full paper


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.