Detection of flooded urban areas in high resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar images using double scattering
Mason, D. C., Giustarini, L., Garcia-Pintado, J. and Cloke, H. L. (2014) Detection of flooded urban areas in high resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar images using double scattering. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and GeoInformation, 28. pp. 150-159. ISSN 0303-2434
To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.jag.2013.12.002
Flooding is a particular hazard in urban areas worldwide due to the increased risks to life and property in these regions. Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensors are often used to image flooding because of their all-weather day-night capability, and now possess sufficient resolution to image urban flooding. The flood extents extracted from the images may be used for flood relief management and improved urban flood inundation modelling. A difficulty with using SAR for urban flood detection is that, due to its side-looking nature, substantial areas of urban ground surface may not be visible to the SAR due to radar layover and shadow caused by buildings and taller vegetation. This paper investigates whether urban flooding can be detected in layover regions (where flooding may not normally be apparent) using double scattering between the (possibly flooded) ground surface and the walls of adjacent buildings. The method estimates double scattering strengths using a SAR image in conjunction with a high resolution LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) height map of the urban area. A SAR simulator is applied to the LiDAR data to generate maps of layover and shadow, and estimate the positions of double scattering curves in the SAR image. Observations of double scattering strengths were compared to the predictions from an electromagnetic scattering model, for both the case of a single image containing flooding, and a change detection case in which the flooded image was compared to an un-flooded image of the same area acquired with the same radar parameters. The method proved successful in detecting double scattering due to flooding in the single-image case, for which flooded double scattering curves were detected with 100% classification accuracy (albeit using a small sample set) and un-flooded curves with 91% classification accuracy. The same measures of success were achieved using change detection between flooded and un-flooded images. Depending on the particular flooding situation, the method could lead to improved detection of flooding in urban areas.