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SAR studies in the Yuma Desert, Arizona: Sand penetration, geology, and the detection of military ordnance debris

Remote Sensing of Environment

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DOI: 10.1016/S0034-4257(98)00093-5

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Abstract

Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images acquired over part of the Yuma Desert in southwestern Arizona demonstrate the ability of C-band (5.7-cm wavelength), L-band (24.5 cm), and P-band (68 cm) AIRSAR signals to backscatter from increasingly greater depths reaching several meters in blow sand and sandy alluvium. AIRSAR images obtained within the Barry M. Goldwater Bombing and Gunnery Range near Yuma, Arizona, show a total reversal of C- and P-band backscatter contrast (image tone) for three distinct geologic units. This phenomenon results from an increasingly greater depth of radar imaging with increasing radar wavelength. In the case of sandy- and small pebble-alluvium surfaces mantled by up to several meters of blow sand, backscatter increases directly with SAR wavelength as a result of volume scattering from a calcic soil horizon at shallow depth and by volume scattering from the root mounds of healthy desert vegetation that locally stabilize blow sand. AIRSAR images obtained within the military range are also shown to be useful for detecting metallic military ordnance debris that is located either at the surface or covered by tens of centimeters to several meters of blow sand. The degree of detectability of this ordnance increases with SAR wavelength and is clearly maximized on P-band images that are processed in the cross-polarized mode (HV). This effect is attributed to maximum signal penetration at P-band and the enhanced PHV image contrast between the radar-bright ordnance debris and the radar-dark sandy desert. This article focuses on the interpretation of high resolution AIRSAR images but also Compares these airborne SAR images with those acquired from spacecraft sensors such as ERS-SAR and Space Radar Laboratory (SIR-C/X-SAR).Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images acquired over part of the Yuma Desert in southwestern Arizona demonstrate the ability of C-band (5.7-cm wavelength), L-band (24.5 cm), and P-band (68 cm) AIRSAR signals to backscatter from increasingly greater depths reaching several meters in blow sand and sandy alluvium. AIRSAR images obtained within the Barry M. Goldwater Bombing and Gunnery Range near Yuma, Arizona, show a total reversal of C- and P-band backscatter contrast (image tone) for three distinct geologic units. This phenomenon results from an increasingly greater depth of radar imaging with increasing radar wavelength. In the case of sandy- and small pebble-alluvium surfaces mantled by up to several meters of blow sand, backscatter increases directly with SAR wavelength as a result of volume scattering from a calcic soil horizon at shallow depth and by volume scattering from the root mounds of healthy desert vegetation that locally stabilize blow sand. AIRSAR images obtained within the military range are also shown to be useful for detecting metallic military ordnance debris that is located either at the surface or covered by tens of centimeters to several meters of blow sand. The degree of detectability of this ordnance increases with SAR wavelength and is clearly maximized on P-band images that are processed in the cross-polarized mode (HV). This effect is attributed to maximum signal penetration at P-band and the enhanced PHV image contrast between the radar-bright ordnance debris and the radar-dark sandy desert. This article focuses on the interpretation of high resolution AIRSAR images but also compares these airborne SAR images with those acquired from spacecraft sensors such as ERS-SAR and Space Radar Laboratory (SIR-C/X-SAR).

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
SAR studies in the Yuma Desert, Arizona: Sand penetration, geology, and the detection of military ordnance debris
Series title:
Remote Sensing of Environment
DOI:
10.1016/S0034-4257(98)00093-5
Volume
67
Issue:
3
Year Published:
1999
Language:
English
Publisher:
Elsevier Science Inc
Publisher location:
New York, NY, United States
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Remote Sensing of Environment
First page:
320
Last page:
347
Number of Pages:
28