Mapping and characterizing thermal dilation of civil infrastructures with multi-temporal X-band synthetic Aperture Radar interferometry

Xiaoqiong Qin, Lu Zhang, Xiaoli Ding, Mingsheng Liao*, Mengshi Yang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
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Temperature variation plays a significant role in the long-term structural behaviour of civil infrastructures, but very few quantitative studies have measured and analysed the infrastructures' global thermal dilation because of their large sizes and geometric complexities. The modern Differential Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometry (DInSAR) technique has great potential in applications of their thermal dilation mapping and characterization due to the techniques' unique capabilities for use in large areas, with high-resolution, and at low-costs for deformation measurements. However, the practical application of DInSAR in thermal dilation estimation is limited by difficulty in the precise separation from the residual topographic phase and the trend deformation phase. Moreover, due to a lack of thermal dilation characteristics analyses in previous studies, the thermal dilation mechanisms are still unclear to users, which restricts the accurate understanding of the thermal dilation evolution process. Given the above challenges, an advanced multi-temporal DInSAR approach is proposed in this study, and the effectiveness of this approach was presented using three cases studies concerning different infrastructure types. In this method, the coherent, incoherent, and semantic information of structures were combined in order to refine the detection of point-like targets (PTs). Interferometric subsets with small temporal baselines and temperature differences were used for high-resolution topography estimation. A pre-analysis was adopted to determine the transmission direction, spatial pattern, and temporal variation of the thermal dilation. Then, both the traditional least squares estimation and our robust coherence-weighted least squares regression analysis were performed between the time series displacements and the corresponding temperatures to quantitatively estimate the thermal dilation model. The results were verified in terms of the estimated linear thermal dilation coefficient, which indicates the greater reliability of our method. Furthermore, the thermal dilation characteristics of different civil infrastructure types were analysed, which facilitates a greater understanding of the thermal dilation evolution process of civil infrastructures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number941
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • Civil infrastructures
  • Least squares
  • Multi-temporal DInSAR analysis
  • TerraSAR-X
  • Thermal dilation characteristics


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