On the value of sentinel-1 insar coherence time-series for vegetation classification

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Abstract

Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) acquisitions are mainly deemed suitable for mapping dynamic land-cover and land-use scenarios due to their timeliness and reliability. This particularly applies to Sentinel-1 imagery. Nevertheless, the accurate mapping of regions characterized by a mixture of crops and grasses can still represent a challenge. Radar time-series have to date mainly been exploited through backscatter intensities, whereas only fewer contributions have focused on analyzing the potential of interferometric information, intuitively enhanced by the short revisit. In this paper, we evaluate, as primary objective, the added value of short-temporal baseline coherences over a complex agricultural area in the São Paulo state, cultivated with heterogeneously (asynchronously) managed annual crops, grasses for pasture and sugarcane plantations. We also investigated the sensitivity of the radar information to the classification methods as well as to the data preparation and sampling practices. Two supervised machine learning methods—namely support vector machine (SVM) and random forest (RF)—were applied to the Sentinel-1 time-series at the pixel and field levels. The results highlight that an improvement of 10 percentage points (p.p.) in the classification accuracy can be achieved by using the coherence in addition to the backscatter intensity and by combining co-polarized (VV) and cross-polarized (VH) information. It is shown that the largest contribution in class discrimination is brought during winter, when dry vegetation and bare soils can be expected. One of the added values of coherence was indeed identified in the enhanced sensitivity to harvest events in a small but significant number of cases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3300
Number of pages20
JournalRemote Sensing
Volume13
Issue number16
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • InSAR coherence
  • Land cover mapping
  • Sentinel-1
  • Time-series
  • Vegetation classification

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