Science Service System

Summary of Proposal LAN0002

TitleDerivation of Urban Structures from High Resolution SAR Data
Investigator Roth, Achim - DLR, DFD
Team Members
Dr. Esch, Thomas - University of Würzburg, Department of Geography, Remote Sensing Unit
Dipl. Geogr. Taubenböck, Hannes - DLR, DFD
Dr. Kux, Hermann J.H. - INPE - Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, DIG
Prof. Emery, William J. - University of Colorado, Aerospace Eng. Science Dept
Pacifici, Fabio - Tor Vergata University, DISP

Urban areas are counted among the most dynamic regions on earth. Particularly the actual process of rapid urbanisation is associated with various ecological, social and economic changes in both, the urban area and the adjacent natural environment. Moreover, the enormous concentration of population, infrastructure and capital in metropolitan areas makes urban agglomerations exceedingly vulnerable to natural or man-made disasters.

In order to keep up with the effects and impacts of this development, effective urban and regional planning increasingly relies on detailed geo-spatial information on the urban dynamics and vulnerability.

A key element is the identification and classification of urban structures. These structures combined with land use classifications reflect the distribution of people, industry and infrastructure but also parameters influencing the healthiness and quality of life like urban green and water bodies. The combination of city structures with social, economic, demographic and other data shall further be utilized for vulnerability assessment. Changes of the city structures are indicators and potential measures for the urban development but can also be used for damage assessment purposes in case of a disaster event.

The utilization of SAR data enables to observe the area of interest independently from weather and environmental conditions. It therewith ensures the availability of EO data at the required dates. While recent studies have proven the applicability of high resolution optical satellite data for the acquisition of suitable spatial and socio-economic information, high resolution radar imagery has barely been employed for these purposes so far. A fact that is mainly due to a lack of space borne radar systems that feature a ground resolution which provides promising opportunities to analyse urban structures.

TerraSAR-X will be the first satellite that will overcome this problem. Both StripMap and Spotlight mode data enable the derivation of meaningful texture information which significantly increases the robustness of an automated classification. Furthermore the availability of dual-polarized data improves the identification accuracy of different land use types in urban environments.

The proposed project aims at the evaluation of the application potential of high resolution TerraSAR-X data for urban studies. This includes the cases

- classification of urban structures

- multi-temporal investigations and change detection

- utilization of interferometric SAR products

- synergistic evaluation with high resolution optical data (e.g. Ikonos)

- synergistic evaluation with other SAR frequencies (e.g. Radarsat-2 and ALOS).

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