We used interferometric methods on a pair of repeat-pass ERS-1 synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images to study soil moisture changes over sparsely vegetated targets. The intensity of the SAR image acquired at one time was higher than that of an image acquired at an earlier time. We used a correlation image computed from the SAR image pair to study the cause of the observed changes in SAR intensity. Because a reduction of correlation over areas with intensity changes was not observed, we interpreted the intensity changes as not being caused by changes in roughness/structure, but by a change in soil moisture owing to rainfall. An increase in soil moisture ranging from 5% to 20% is the most likely explanation for the increase of intensity. These analyses imply that both intensity and phase information should be used in SAR change detection applications.
Additional publication details
Study of high SAR backscattering caused by an increase of soil moisture over a sparsely vegetated area: Implications for characteristics of backscattering