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Radar Backscattering of Intertidal Mudflats Observed by Radarsat-1 SAR Images and Ground-Based Scatterometer Experiments

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3 Author(s)
Hoonyol Lee ; Department of Geophysics, Kangwon National University, Chuncheon, Kangwon, Korea ; Heesam Chae ; Seong-Jun Cho

This paper presents the variation of the radar backscattering of intertidal mudflats in the west coast of Korea observed by Radarsat-1 synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images and investigates the related factors by an indoor experiment and a field experiment using a ground-based C-band scatterometer. The 15 Radarsat-1 SAR images of the intertidal mudflat near Jebu Island used in this study were all taken at around 6:30 p.m., which is an ideal local time for evaluating the daytime evaporation effects during the 12.4-h tidal cycle. An exposure time map and an evaporation time map of mudflats at the time of each SAR acquisition are calculated based on the tidal records, a digital elevation map generated by the waterline extraction method, and the normalized daily evaporation index. The radar backscattering of the upper intertidal mudflat did not show a monotonic change with evaporation time but a complex pattern. An indoor experiment using a C-band scatterometer on drying mud revealed an M-shaped change (increase-decrease-increase-decrease) of radar backscattering due to various factors that affect dielectric constant and roughness such as the drainage of surface water (increase), evaporation (decrease), mud cracking (increase), and further evaporation (decrease). The variation of backscattering observed from SAR images agreed well with the initial three stages of the indoor experiment (increase-decrease-increase) but did not show the final stage of decrease from continuous evaporation. A field experiment on natural intertidal mudflats showed not only the pattern related to the initial drainage and evaporation but also speckles from biological activity.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing  (Volume:49 ,  Issue: 5 )