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Delineation of inundated area and vegetation along the Amazon floodplain with the SIR-C synthetic aperture radar

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4 Author(s)
L. L. Hess ; Inst. for Comput. Earth Syst. Sci., California Univ., Santa Barbara, CA, USA ; J. M. Melack ; S. Filoso ; Yong Wang

Floodplain inundation and vegetation along the Negro and Amazon rivers near Manaus, Brazil were accurately delineated using multi-frequency, polarimetric synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data from the April and October 1994 SIR-C missions. A decision-tree model was used to formulate rules for a supervised classification into five categories: water, clearing (pasture), aquatic macrophyte (floating meadow), nonflooded forest, and flooded forest. Classified images were produced and tested within three days of SIR-C data acquisition. Both C-band (5.7 cm) and L-band (24 cm) wavelengths were necessary to distinguish the cover types. HH polarization was most useful for distinguishing flooded from nonflooded vegetation (C-HH for macrophyte versus pasture, and L-HH for flooded versus nonflooded forest), and cross-polarized L-band data provided the best separation between woody and nonwoody vegetation. Between the April and October missions, the Amazon River level fell about 3.6 m and the portion of the study area covered by flooded forest decreased from 23% to 12%. This study demonstrates the ability of multifrequency SAR to quantify in near realtime the extent of inundation on forested floodplains, and its potential application for timely monitoring of flood events

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing  (Volume:33 ,  Issue: 4 )