Polarimetric SAR data in land cover mapping in boreal zone

Anne Lönnqvist, Yrjö Rauste, Matthieu Molinier, Tuomas Häme

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    56 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper compares ALOS PALSAR fully polarimetric and dual-polarized data in the application area of land cover mapping. To assure versatile comparison of the data, different classification methods and different features of data are used. Two of the classification methods used are based on supervised classification and two on unsupervised classification. Polarimetric data are used in three ways: 1) as fully polarimetric data; 2) features calculated from fully polarimetric data; and 3) intensity data of selected channels. Combinations of six (water, field, sparse forest, dense forest, peat land, and urban areas), five, four, and three classes were used for classification. Fully polarimetric data gave better results (87.5%84.7% with three classes; open land areas, forest, and water) than intensity data only (83.6%78.6%), but the differences in the overall accuracies between the methods were not more than 7.6%. Kappa coefficients of agreement are moderate for all the classifications. Supervised classification can be expected to perform better than unsupervised classification, given that the training areas can be selected accurately. Dual polarization data were found to be an attractive alternative in cases where fully polarimetric data are not available or it is of low resolution. With intensities of selected polarimetric features, it was possible to obtain a high classification accuracy as with fully polarimetric data. This also opens possibilities for nonspecialist users to benefit from polarimetric information in classification.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number5475228
    Pages (from-to)3652-3662
    Number of pages11
    JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2010
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Advanced Land Observing Satellite Phased Array type L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (ALOS PALSAR)
    • classification
    • land cover
    • polarimetric synthetic aperture radar


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