Arctic Sea Ice Characterization Using Spaceborne Fully Polarimetric L-, C-, and X-Band SAR With Validation by Airborne Measurements

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In recent years, spaceborne synthetic aperture radar (SAR) polarimetry has become a valuable tool for sea ice analysis. Here, we employ an automatic sea ice classification algorithm on two sets of spatially and temporally near coincident fully polarimetric acquisitions from the ALOS-2, Radarsat-2, and TerraSAR-X/TanDEM-X satellites. Overlapping coincident sea ice freeboard measurements from airborne laser scanner data are used to validate the classification results. The automated sea ice classification algorithm consists of two steps. In the first step, we perform a polarimetric feature extraction procedure. Next, the resulting feature vectors are ingested into a trained neural network classifier to arrive at a pixelwise supervised classification. Coherency matrix-based features that require an eigendecomposition are found to be either of low relevance or redundant to other covariance matrix-based features, which makes coherency matrix-based features dispensable for the purpose of sea ice classification. Among the most useful features for classification are matrix invariant-based features (geometric intensity, scattering diversity, and surface scattering fraction). Classification results show that 100% of the open water is separated from the surrounding sea ice and that the sea ice classes have at least 96.9% accuracy. This analysis reveals analogous results for both X-band and C-band frequencies and slightly different for the L-band. The subsequent classification produces similarly promising results for all four acquisitions. In particular, the overlapping image portions exhibit a reasonable congruence of detected sea ice when compared with high-resolution airborne measurements.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Volume56
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)3715-3734
ISSN0196-2892
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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