Understanding Dense Time Series of Sentinel-1 Backscatter from Rice Fields: Case Study in a Province of the Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Hoa Phan, Thuy Le Toan, Alexandre Bouvet
2021 Remote Sensing  
Rice is the primary staple food of more than half of the world's population and plays an especially important role in global economy, food security, water use, and climate change. The usefulness of Synthetic Aperture Radars (SAR) for rice mapping and monitoring has been demonstrated locally in many studies, in particular in the last five years with the availability of an unprecedented amount of free Sentinel-1 data within the Copernicus program. However, although earlier studies from the 1990s
more » ... ave laid the foundations of the physical understanding of the SAR response of rice fields, the more recent studies tend to overlook this aspect and to favor instead approaches driven by supervised learning which provide accurate results locally but cannot necessarily be extended to wide areas. The objective of this study is to analyze in detail the backscatter temporal variation of rice fields, using Sentinel-1 from 2015 to 2020 and in-situ data for the 5 rice seasons over 2 years 2017–2018, in order to derive robust SAR-based indicators useful for rice monitoring applications, which are essential for planning, monitoring and food security applications. The test region is the An Giang province, in the Mekong River Delta, Vietnam, one of the world's major rice regions which presents a diversity in rice cultivation practices, in cropping density, and in crop calendar. The SAR data have been analyzed as a function of rice parameters, and the temporal and polarization behaviors of the radar backscatter of different rice varieties have been interpreted physically. New backscatter indicators for the detection of rice paddy area, the estimation of the sowing date, phenological stage and the mapping of the short cycle and long cycle rice varieties have been developed and discussed regarding the generality of the methods with respect to the rice cultural practices and the SAR data characteristics.
doi:10.3390/rs13050921 fatcat:npy367cuibfkvfy7w3hlgwjcgq