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Sensors (Basel). 2018 Jul 30;18(8). pii: E2459. doi: 10.3390/s18082459.

A Maximum Likelihood Based Nonparametric Iterative Adaptive Method of Synthetic Aperture Radar Tomography and Its Application for Estimating Underlying Topography and Forest Height.

Peng X1,2, Li X3, Wang C4,5, Fu H6, Du Y7.

Author information

1
School of Geosciences and Info-Physics, Central South University, Changsha 410083, China. hubeipx@csu.edu.cn.
2
Key Lab of Digital Earth Sciences, Institute of Remote Sensing & Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100094, China. hubeipx@csu.edu.cn.
3
Key Lab of Digital Earth Sciences, Institute of Remote Sensing & Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100094, China. lixw@radi.ac.cn.
4
School of Geosciences and Info-Physics, Central South University, Changsha 410083, China. wangchangcheng@csu.edu.cn.
5
Key Laboratory of Metallogenic Prediction of Nonferrous Metals and Geological Environment Monitoring, Ministry of Education, Central South University, Changsha 410083, China. wangchangcheng@csu.edu.cn.
6
School of Geosciences and Info-Physics, Central South University, Changsha 410083, China. haiqiangfu@csu.edu.cn.
7
School of Geographical Sciences, Guangzhou University, Guangzhou 510006, China. yndu@gzhu.edu.cn.

Abstract

Synthetic aperture radar tomography (TomoSAR) is an important way of obtaining underlying topography and forest height for long-wavelength datasets such as L-band and P-band radar. It is usual to apply nonparametric spectral estimation methods with a large number of snapshots over forest areas. The nonparametric iterative adaptive approach for amplitude and phase estimation (IAA-APES) can obtain a high resolution; however, it only tends to work well with a small number of snapshots. To overcome this problem, this paper proposes the nonparametric iterative adaptive approach based on maximum likelihood estimation (IAA-ML) for the application over forest areas. IAA-ML can be directly used in forest areas, without any prior information or preprocessing. Moreover, it can work well in the case of a large number of snapshots. In addition, it mainly focuses on the backscattered power around the phase centers, helping to detect their locations. The proposed IAA-ML estimator was tested in simulated experiments and the results confirmed that IAA-ML obtains a higher resolution than IAA-APES. Moreover, six P-band fully polarimetric airborne SAR images were applied to acquire the structural parameters of a forest area. It was found that the results of the HH polarization are suitable for analyzing the ground contribution and the results of the HV polarization are beneficial when studying the canopy contribution. Based on this, the underlying topography and forest height of a test site in Paracou, French Guiana, were estimated. With respect to the Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) measurements, the standard deviation of the estimations of the IAA-ML TomoSAR method was 2.11 m for the underlying topography and 2.80 m for the forest height. Furthermore, compared to IAA-APES, IAA-ML obtained a higher resolution and a higher estimation accuracy. In addition, the estimation accuracy of IAA-ML was also slightly higher than that of the SKP-beamforming technique in this case study.

KEYWORDS:

IAA-ML; P-band; SAR tomography; forest height; underlying topography

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