Evaluation of polarimetric SAR decomposition for classifying wetland vegetation types

Sang Hoon Hong, Hyun Ok Kim, Shimon Wdowinski, Emanuelle Feliciano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The Florida Everglades is the largest subtropical wetland system in the United States and, as with subtropical and tropical wetlands elsewhere, has been threatened by severe environmental stresses. It is very important to monitor such wetlands to inform management on the status of these fragile ecosystems. This study aims to examine the applicability of TerraSAR-X quadruple polarimetric (quad-pol) synthetic aperture radar (PolSAR) data for classifying wetland vegetation in the Everglades. We processed quad-pol data using the Hong & Wdowinski four-component decomposition, which accounts for double bounce scattering in the cross-polarization signal. The calculated decomposition images consist of four scattering mechanisms (single, co- and cross-pol double, and volume scattering). We applied an object-oriented image analysis approach to classify vegetation types with the decomposition results. We also used a high-resolution multispectral optical RapidEye image to compare statistics and classification results with Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) observations. The calculated classification accuracy was higher than 85%, suggesting that the TerraSAR-X quad-pol SAR signal had a high potential for distinguishing different vegetation types. Scattering components from SAR acquisition were particularly advantageous for classifying mangroves along tidal channels. We conclude that the typical scattering behaviors from model-based decomposition are useful for discriminating among different wetland vegetation types.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8563-8585
Number of pages23
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2015


  • Everglades
  • Polarimetric SAR (PolSAR)
  • Polarimetric decomposition
  • Subtropical wetland
  • TerraSAR-X
  • Wetland vegetation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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