CFAR Edge Detector for Polarimetric SAR Images

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Finding the edges between different regions in an image is one of the fundamental steps of image analysis, and several edge detectors suitable for the special statistics of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) intensity images have previously been developed. In this paper, a new edge detector for polarimetric SAR images is presented using a newly developed test statistic in the complex Wishart distribution to test for equality of covariance matrices. The new edge detector can be applied to a wide range of SAR data from single-channel intensity data to multifrequency and/or multitemporal polarimetric SAR data. By simply changing the parameters characterizing the test statistic according to the applied SAR data, constant false-alarm rate detection is always obtained. An adaptive filtering scheme is presented, and the distributions of the detector are verified using simulated polarimetric SAR images. Using SAR data from the Danish airborne polarimetric SAR, EMISAR, it is demonstrated that superior edge detection results are obtained using polarimetric and/or multifrequency data compared to using only intensity data.
Original languageEnglish
JournalI E E E Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)20-32
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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Copyright: 2003 IEEE. Personal use of this material is permitted. However, permission to reprint/republish this material for advertising or promotional purposes or for creating new collective works for resale or redistribution to servers or lists, or to reuse any copyrighted component of this work in other works must be obtained from the IEEE


  • Complex Wishart distribution
  • Wishart likelihood-ratio test statistic
  • edge detection
  • synthetic aperture radar (SAR)
  • polarimetry

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