Forest mapping and monitoring with interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR)
journal contributionposted on 22.06.2009, 13:29 by Heiko Balzter
A synthetic aperture radar (SAR) is an active sensor transmitting pulses of polarized electromagnetic waves and receiving the backscattered radiation. SAR sensors at different wavelengths and with different polarimetric capabilities are being used in remote sensing of the earth. The value of an analysis of backscattered energy alone is limited due to ambiguities in the possible ecological factor configurations causing the signal. From two SAR images taken from similar viewing positions with a short time-lag, interference between the two waves can be observed. By subtracting the two phases of the signals, it is feasible to eliminate the random contribution of the scatterers to the phase. The interferometric correlation and the interferometric phase contain additional information on the three-dimensional structure of the scattering elements in the imaged area. A brief review of SAR sensors is given, followed by an outline of the physical foundations of SAR interferometry and the practical data-processing steps involved. An overview of applications of InSAR to forest mapping and monitoring is given, covering tree-bole volume and biomass, forest types and land cover, fire scars, forest thermal state and forest canopy height.