World-wide InSAR sensitivity index for landslide deformation tracking

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Landslides are a major geohazard in hilly and mountainous environments. In-situ inspection of downslope motion is costly, sometimes dangerous and, requires prior knowledge of the existence of a landslide. Remote sensing from space is a way to detect and characterize landslides systematically at large scale. Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) has shown to be a valuable resource of deformation information, but it requires expert knowledge and considerable computational efforts. Moreover, the successful application of InSAR for landslides requires a favorable acquisition geometry relative to the landslide deformation pattern. Consequently, there is a need for a widely applicable tool to assess the potential of InSAR at a particular location a priori. Here we present a novel, generic approach to assess the potential of InSAR-based deformation tracking, providing a standardised and automated method applicable on any slope. We define the detection potential as the sensitivity of InSAR to detect downslope displacement combined with the presence of coherently scattering surfaces. We show that deformation can be detected on at least 91% of the global landslide-prone slopes, and provide an open source Google Earth Engine tool for the quick assessment of the availability of potential coherent scatterers. This tool enables any person interested in applying InSAR to routinely assess the potential for monitoring landslide deformation in their region of interest.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102829
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Landslides
  • Deformation tracking
  • InSAR
  • Sentinel-1
  • Sensitivity index


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