Effects of seasonal hydrologic patterns in south Florida wetlands on radar backscatter measured from ERS-2 SAR imagery
A multi-year study was carried out to evaluate ERS synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery for monitoring surface hydrologic conditions in wetlands of southern Florida. Surface conditions (water level, aboveground biomass, soil moisture) were measured in 13 study sites (representing three major wetland types) over a 25-month period. ERS SAR imagery was collected over these sites on 22 different occasions and correlated with the surface observations. The results show wide variation in ERS backscatter in individual sites when they were flooded and non-flooded. The range (minimum vs. maximum) in SAR backscatter for the sites when they were flooded was between 2.3 and 8.9 dB, and between 5.0 and 9.0 dB when they were not flooded. Variations in backscatter in the non-flooded sites were consistent with theoretical scattering models for the most part. Backscatter was positively correlated to field measurements of soil moisture. The MIchigan MIcrowave Canopy Scattering (MIMICS) model predicts that backscatter should decrease sharply when a site becomes inundated, but the data show that this drop is only 1-2 dB. This decrease was observed in both non-wooded and wooded sites. The drop in backscatter as water depth increases predicted by MIMICS was observed in the non-wooded wetland sites, and a similar decrease was observed in wooded wetlands as well. Finally, the sensitivity of backscatter and attenuation to variations in aboveground biomass predicted by MIMICS was not observed in the data. The results show that the inter- and intra-annual variations in ERS SAR image intensity in the study region are the result of changes in soil moisture and degree of inundation in the sites. The correlation between changes in SAR backscatter and water depth indicates the potential for using spaceborne SAR systems, such as the ERS for monitoring variations in flooding in south Florida wetlands. © 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kasischke, ES; Smith, KB; Bourgeau-Chavez, LL; Romanowicz, EA; Brunzell, S; Richardson, CJ
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