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Topographic mapping using polarimetric SAR data

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A new remote sensing technique using polarimetric synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data has been developed which can measure terrain slopes in the azimuthal, or along-track, direction. Terrain elevation maps can then be generated by integrating these slopes. The processing of both single-pass, and orthogonal two-pass, datasets is investigated. When single-pass SAR data is used elevation groundtruth must be available for at least one point of each profile formed in the azimuthal direction. When orthogonal two-pass slope data is employed, the elevation surface may be generated as an iterative solution of the Poisson equation and only a single elevation tie-point is required. The results of two studies are presented. In the first study slopes have been measured using single-pass P-band data for a forested area in northern California. The elevation surface generated with this data has been compared with a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) produced by a C-band interferometric SAR. The second study uses orthogonal two- pass P-band data as a test of the Poisson equation approach for an area in Death Valley National Park, California. The orthogonal two-pass results have been compared with a co-registered, conventional, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) product. Technique accuracy and potential applications are discussed.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 10, 1998

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