This paper aims at modeling the microwave backscatter of corn fields by coupling an incoherent, interaction-based scattering model with a semi-empirical bulk vegetation dielectric model. The scattering model is fitted to co-polarized phase difference measurements over several corn fields imaged with fully polarimetric synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images with incidence angles ranging from 20° to 60°. The dataset comprised two field campaigns, one over Canada with the Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR, 1.258 GHz) and the other one over Argentina with Advanced Land Observing Satellite 2 (ALOS-2) Phased Array type L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (PALSAR-2) (ALOS-2/PALSAR-2, 1.236 GHz), totaling 60 data measurements over 28 grown corn fields at peak biomass with stalk gravimetric moisture larger than 0.8 g/g. Co-polarized phase differences were computed using a maximum likelihood estimation technique from each field’s measured speckled sample histograms. After minimizing the difference between the model and data measurements for varying incidence angles by a nonlinear least-squares fitting, well agreement was found with a root mean squared error of 24.3° for co-polarized phase difference measurements in the range of −170.3° to −19.13°. Model parameterization by stalk gravimetric moisture instead of its complex dielectric constant is also addressed. Further validation was undertaken for the UAVSAR dataset on earlier corn stages, where overall sensitivity to stalk height, stalk gravimetric moisture, and stalk area density agreed with ground data, with the sensitivity to stalk diameter being the weakest. This study provides a new perspective on the use of co-polarized phase differences in retrieving corn stalk features through inverse modeling techniques from space.
This time, the system was fully operational and we tested its performances for forest monitoring at X-, C-, L-band frequencies and finally P-band. The test area is located right next to the Castell de Subirats (Subirats Castle), in the outskirts of the Barcelona city.
The video below shows the four 3-hour time-series of images at X-, C-, L- and P-band frequencies measured this day. One can observe how signal stability increases as the frequency gets lower. This demonstrates that vegetation is transparent at lower frequencies, mainly L- and P-band, so we are observing the soil and the rocky structures under the vegetation.
This time, we tested the system performances for forest monitoring at X-, C- and L-band frequencies. The test area is located right next to the Castell de Subirats (Subirats Castle), in the outskirts of the Barcelona city.
The video below shows the three time-series of images at X-, C- and L-band frequencies measured this day. It is interesting to observe the effects of data stability at lower frequencies, specially L-band, and how some rocky structures under the vegetation are only visible at this frequency.
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
In this article, we present a multipolarimetric estimation approach for two model-based vegetation structure parameters (shape AP and orientation distribution of the main canopy elements). The approach is based on a reduced observation set of three incoherent (no phase information) polarimetric backscatter intensities (, , and ) combined with a two-parameter (AP and ) 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 , we use the subpixel spatial heterogeneity expressed by the covariation of co- and cross-polarized backscatter of the neighboring cells and assume it is indicative for the amount of a vegetation-only co-to-cross-polarized backscatter ratio . 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 . 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 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.