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Ionospheric Artifacts in Simultaneous L-Band InSAR and GPS Observations

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2 Author(s)
Jingyi Chen ; Departments of Electrical Engineering and Geophysics, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA ; Howard A. Zebker

Phase artifacts in interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) images frequently degrade the interpretability of the phase and correlation signatures of terrain. Often, these distortions are attributed to spatially variable ionospheric propagation delays at two different SAR acquisition times. We present here L-band InSAR data from Iceland, California, and Hawaii. The California and Hawaii interferograms show no significant ionospheric artifacts, while the Iceland interferogram shows a maximum misregistration of three pixels in the azimuth direction, which leads to severe phase decorrelation artifacts in the InSAR image. We relate the misregistration of complex pixels seen in the interferograms to the gradient of the ionospheric total electron content (TEC) observed by global positioning system (GPS) data and confirm that indeed the phase artifacts in the Iceland interferogram are due to dispersive ionospheric propagation rather than other decorrelation factors such as neutral atmospheric delays. We develop a method to measure the spatial TEC variation at synthetic aperture length scales using dual-frequency GPS carrier phase data. We solve for the GPS data ambiguities using a low-resolution ionosphere reference derived from either available ionospheric observations or the GPS carrier phase data themselves. GPS observations show directly the level of ionospheric variability, and the spatial TEC gradient as observed by GPS predicts the misregistration of complex pixels in interferograms in all three areas. This confirmation of the cause of the image artifacts suggests that they can be routinely corrected from the InSAR data alone, provided that the sensor measures the change in TEC along the radar swath.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing  (Volume:50 ,  Issue: 4 )