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Typhoon eye extraction with an automatic SAR image segmentation method

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Spaceborne microwave synthetic aperture radar (SAR), with its high spatial resolution (10–100 m), large area coverage, and day/night imaging capability, has been used as an important tool for typhoon monitoring. Since the microwave signal can penetrate through clouds, SAR images reveal typhoon morphology at the sea surface. Within the region of a typhoon eye, wind speed and the associated sea surface roughness are usually low. Therefore, the typhoon eye can be well distinguished as dark areas in SAR images. However, automatic typhoon eye extraction from SAR images is hampered by SAR image speckle noise and other false-alarm dark features contained in an image. In this study, we propose an image processing approach to extract typhoon eyes from SAR images. The three-step image processing includes: (1) applying an extended non-local means image denoizing algorithm to reduce image speckle noise; (2) applying a top-hat transform to denoized imagery to enhance the contrast; and (3) using a labelled watershed to segment the typhoon eye. Experimental results from analysing three Environmental Satellite SAR typhoon images show that our approach provides fast and efficient SAR image segmentation for typhoon eye extraction. Typhoon eyes are segmented correctly, and their edges are well detected. Our experimental results are comparable to manually extracted typhoon eye information. Fine-tuning of this approach will provide an automatic tool for typhoon eye information extraction from SAR images.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Key Laboratory of Intelligent Perception and Image Understanding of Ministry of Education of China, Xidian University, Xi’an, China 2: GST at NOAA/NESDIS, College Park, USA

Publication date: June 18, 2014

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