Flood mapping with terraSAR-X in forested regions in Estonia

Kaupo Voormansik, Jaan Praks, Oleg Antropov, Jüri Jagomägi, Karlis Zalite

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    64 Citations (Scopus)


    In this study, an extensive flood in Estonia during spring 2010 was mapped with TerraSAR-X data acquired over both open and forested areas. This was the first time when a large scale flooding area was mapped in Estonia by means of spaceborne remote sensing. This was also the first time when X-band SAR images were successfully used for flood mapping under the forest canopy in the temperate forest zone. The tree height in the study region was 15-25 meters on average, and main tree species were birch (leaf-off condition), pine and spruce. The results were compared with ALOS PALSAR and Envisat ASAR images of the same flooding event. In the study area, TerraSAR-X provided on average 3.2 dB higher backscatter over mixed forest flooded areas compared to non-flooded areas. In deciduous and coniferous forests the difference in average backscatter between flooded and non-flooded forests was even greater, 6.2 dB and 4.0 dB, respectively. A supervised classification algorithm was developed to produce high resolution maps of the flooded area from the TerraSAR-X images to demonstrate the flood mapping capability at X-band. Our results show, that spaceborne X-band SAR data, which currently has the highest resolution among the SAR instruments in space, can be used to map floods under forest canopy in temperate zone despite its short wavelength and high attenuation
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)562-577
    Number of pages16
    JournalIEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Flood mapping
    • synthetic aperture radar (SAR)
    • temperate forest
    • X-band


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