Evaluation of TerraSAR-X observations for wetland InSAR application

Sang Hoon Hong, Shimon Wdowinski, Sang Wan Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


This paper assesses the potential of using spaceborne X-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data for monitoring water-level changes over wetlands. Our analysis is based on three sets of TerraSAR-X (TSX) observations acquired over South Florida's Everglades wetlands during an eight-month period in 2008. The first set was acquired in single HH polarization stripmap mode over our northern study area, consisting of managed wetlands and urban environments. The second set was acquired in dual-polarization stripmap mode over the western half of the same area, consisting mostly of managed wetlands. The third set was also acquired with dual-polarization stripmap mode over our southern study area, consisting of natural flow fresh- and salt-water wetlands in the southern Everglades. The first data set was used for a proof-of-concept study to verify that X-band data can generate coherent interferograms in wetland areas. Interferometric processing of this data set shows a high level of coherence (>0.35) over both wetland and urban regions, maintaining interferometric phase in all three interferograms spanning 11 days. Surprisingly, phase is maintained over some of the wetlands even for interferograms spanning 33 days. The other two data sets were used to evaluate interferometric coherence of all four polarization modes and to determine dominant scattering mechanism in each wetland environment. Our results show high coherence values (>0.4) in all polarization modes, with highest values in HH, then VV, and lowest in HV or VH. Interferograms calculated from multipolarization data show very similar fringe patterns regardless of the polarization type, suggesting that the phase information in all polarization data reflects water-level changes in wetlands and that volume scattering may be less important than commonly believed. We also used the two multipolarization data sets to conduct the Pauli decomposition, finding a strong dependence of scattering mechanism on vegetation type. The high interferometric coherence level of all polarization data suggests that a significant part of the X-band scattered signal interacts with lower sections of the vegetation (trunks and branches), because scattering from wind-affected canopies cannot support such a high coherence level. The high spatial resolution of TSX, combined with its 11-day repeat orbit, makes this X-band sensor surprisingly suitable for wetland interferometric SAR applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5226566
Pages (from-to)864-873
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Coherence
  • Interferometric SAR
  • TerraSAR-X
  • The Evergaldes
  • Wetlands
  • X-band

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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