LIDAR-Aided SAR Interferometry Studies in Boreal Forest: Scattering Phase Center and Extinction Coefficient at X- and L-Band

Jaan Praks, Oleg Antropov, Martti Hallikainen

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    75 Citations (Scopus)


    Scattering phase center (SPC) location in boreal forests was studied in order to assist forest inventory with single- and quad-pol synthetic aperture radar (SAR) interferometry. Airborne X- and L-band interferometric SAR data collected by the DLR E-SAR instrument in southern Finland during the FINSAR campaign was used in the study. A simple Random Volume over Ground (RVoG) model was employed as the theoretical framework for inversion of forest parameters and interpretation of the obtained results. LIDAR measurements of the canopy height and terrain elevation were used as reference and auxiliary data. The RVoG model was found to satisfactorily explain the SPC location inside the canopy in boreal forests. We show that when using X-band, the height of the SPC is typically about 75% of the canopy height, as predicted by the RVoG model; however, the retrieved extinction was found to be rather low. The feasibility of highly accurate tree height inversion using single-polarization X-band interferometry (with RMSE approaching 1.5 m) is demonstrated using a digital terrain model. For this purpose, the traditional polarimetric interferometry SAR technique for phase center retrieval is modified to include a complementary LIDAR measured terrain model. At L-band, the phase center height was determined to be around 50% of the canopy height and even lower, indicating that the ground contribution is significant. Moreover, several simplified inversion approaches for tree height and extinction coefficient retrieval were considered based on several boundary cases of the RVoG model, describing the canopy frequently encountered in boreal forest environments. These analyses allowed developing a combined approach for simultaneous estimation of both forest height and extinction in the boreal zone when an accurate elevation model of the terrain is available.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3831-3843
    Number of pages13
    JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 2012
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Boreal forest
    • phase center
    • polarimetric interferometry
    • synthetic aperture radar (SAR)
    • tree height


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