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Polarimetric Properties of Burned Forest Areas at C- and L-Band

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4 Author(s)
Mihai A. Tanase ; Cooperative Res. Centre for Spatial Inf., Univ. of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, Australia ; Maurizio Santoro ; Cristina Aponte ; Juan de la Riva

Fully polarimetric C- and L-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data have been investigated to determine the relationship between polarimetric target decomposition components and forest burn severity over two sites located in a Mediterranean environment. The dependence of the polarimetric decomposition metrics on SAR acquisition geometry and environmental conditions was also analyzed at C-band. Multiple linear regression models with interactions (i.e., the incidence angle was included as a predictor variable and its interaction with the radar metrics was accounted for as a multiplicative effect) were used to quantify burn severity retrieval accuracy. According to our experiment, we found that for steep SAR acquisition geometries C-band polarimetric components related to surface scattering mechanisms had increased sensitivity to burn severity levels, while for datasets acquired with more grazing geometries the polarimetric components related to volume scattering and dihedral scattering mechanisms were more correlated with burn severity levels. At L-band only volume and dihedral scattering related decomposition components provided significant relationships with burn severity levels. Relatively low burn severity estimation errors (less than 20% of burn severity range) were obtained for all datasets, with L-band data presenting the highest sensitivity to fire effects. Using a single regression model provided sufficient accuracy for burn severity estimation when taking into account the local incidence angle. The use of fully polarimetric data improved the estimation accuracy of forest burn severity with respect to backscatter intensities by a small margin for our study sites. However, since backscatter intensity metrics already provide high retrieval accuracies, whatever improvement was bound to be low.

Published in:

IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing  (Volume:7 ,  Issue: 1 )