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With a spatial resolution of up to 1 m, the German radar satellite TerraSAR-X (TSX) has significantly increased the usability of spaceborne synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery in the context of urban applications. This paper presents an approach toward the semiautomated detection of built-up areas (BAs) based on single-polarized TSX images. The proposed methodology includes a specific preprocessing of the SAR data and an automated image analysis procedure. The preprocessing focuses on the analysis of local speckle characteristics in order to provide a texture layer that highlights BAs. In the context of an object-oriented image analysis, this texture layer is used along with the original intensity information to automatically extract settlements. The technique is tested on the basis of 12 TSX scenes covering representative urban agglomerations distributed throughout the world. Overall, accuracies between 76% and 96% for the derived city footprints demonstrate the high potential of both the TSX imagery and the proposed analysis approach in detecting BAs. In order to demonstrate the robustness and transferability of the image analysis concept, we finally transferred the classification strategy from the object-oriented domain to a more general and simplified pixel-based approach.
Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:48 , Issue: 2 )
Date of Publication: Feb. 2010