Digital Terrain Model Retrieval in Tropical Forests Through P-Band SAR Tomography

Mauro Mariotti d'Alessandro, Stefano Tebaldini
2019 IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing  
This paper focuses on the retrieval of terrain topography below dense tropical forests by means of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) systems. Low-frequency signals are needed to penetrate such a thick vegetation layer; however, this expedient alone does not guarantee proper retrieval. It is, here, demonstrated that the phase center of P-band backscatter may lie several meters above the ground, depending on the slope and incidence angle. SAR tomography is shown to overcome this problem and
more » ... the actual topography even in the presence of dense trees up to 50 m tall. Digital terrain models returned by SAR tomography are, here, put in comparison with light detection and ranging (LiDAR) terrain models: the accuracy of radarderived maps is found to be at least comparable with the one offered by LiDAR systems. Moreover, the discrepancy between tomography and LiDAR is larger if large-footprint LiDAR is considered thus suggesting that, in this case, tomographic maps should be considered the reference height. Analyses are carried out by processing three data sets gathered over different tropical forests in western Africa. The robustness of the radar estimates is assessed with respect to both ground slope and treetop height.
doi:10.1109/tgrs.2019.2908517 fatcat:xhqohok6drddbp3ktuck3xxcfq