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A comparison of TerraSAR-X Quadpol backscattering with RapidEye multispectral vegetation indices over rice fields in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam

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Abstract:

Satellite-based multispectral imagery and/or synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data have been widely used for vegetation characterization, plant physiological parameter estimation, crop monitoring or even yield prediction. However, the potential use of satellite-based X-band SAR data for these purposes is not fully understood. A new generation of X-band radar satellite sensors offers high spatial resolution images with different polarizations and, therefore, constitutes a valuable information source. In this study, we utilized a TerraSAR-X satellite scene recorded during a short experimental phase when the sensor was running in full polarimetric ‘Quadpol’ mode. The radar backscatter signals were compared with a RapidEye reference data set to investigate the potential relationship of TerraSAR-X backscatter signals to multispectral vegetation indices and to quantify the benefits of TerraSAR-X Quadpol data over standard dual- or single-polarization modes. The satellite scenes used cover parts of the Mekong Delta, the rice bowl of Vietnam, one of the major rice exporters in the world and one of the regions most vulnerable to climate change. The use of radar imagery is especially advantageous over optical data in tropical regions because the availability of cloudless optical data sets may be limited to only a few days per year. We found no significant correlations between radar backscatter and optical vegetation indices in pixel-based comparisons. VV and cross-polarized images showed significant correlations with combined spectral indices, the modified chlorophyll absorption ratio index/second modified triangular vegetation index (MCARI/MTVI2) and transformed chlorophyll absorption in reflectance index/optimized soil-adjusted vegetation index (TCARI/OSAVI), when compared on an object basis. No correlations between radar backscattering at any polarization and the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) were observed.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01431161.2012.702233

Affiliations: 1: Department of Remote Sensing,Institute of Geography, University of Würzburg, 97074,Würzburg, Germany 2: German Remote Sensing Data Center, Earth Observation Center (EOC), German Aerospace Center (DLR), Oberpfaffenhofen82234,Wessling, Germany 3: GIS and Remote Sensing Research Centre, Vietnamese Academy of Science and Technology, Ho-Chi-Minh City, Vietnam

Publication date: December 20, 2012

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