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Detecting deforestation with multitemporal L-band SAR imagery: a case study in western Brazilian Amazônia

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Applications of L-band SAR data to map deforestation are generally based on the assumption that undisturbed forests consistently exhibit higher radar backscatter than deforested areas. In this Letter we show that depending on the stage of the deforestation process (slashing, burning and terrain clearing), this assumption is not always valid, and deforested areas may display a stronger radar return backscatter than primary forest. The analysis of multitemporal SAR images, supported by several Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) images and field knowledge, showed that wood materials left following the deforestation practices function as corner reflectors, causing an initial increase in the radar backscatter, which then subsequently decreases over time as the debris on these fields are removed.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE), Caixa Postal 515, São José dos Campos, SP, Brazil 2: Swedish Space Corporation, PO Box 4207, 17104 Solna, Sweden

Publication date: 2007-01-01

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