Development of a ground-based polarimetric broadband SAR system for noninvasive ground-truth validation in vegetation monitoring

Zheng Shu Zhou, Wolfgang Martin Boerner, Motoyuki Sato

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71 Citations (Scopus)


We have developed a ground-based polarimetric broadband synthetic aperture radar (SAR) system for noninvasive ground-truth validation in polarimetric SAR remote sensing of terrestrial vegetation cover. This system consists of a vector network analyzer, one dual-polarized antenna, and an antenna positioner. It can be operated in a frequency range from 50 MHz to 20 GHz, with a scanning aperture of 20 m in the horizontal and 1.5 m in the vertical direction. Tests carried out with standard reflectors showed that the polarimetric measurement capabilities of this system are satisfactory. Using the polarimetric ground-based SAR (GB-SAR) system, we carried out measurements on a specific vegetation cover pertinent to the remote sensing of forested regions within Sendai City, consisting of three different kinds of trees common within the Kawauchi Campus of Tohoku University. Measurements were collected in spring, summer, and autumn. Three-dimensional (3-D) polarization-sensitive images were reconstructed from the acquired data. Analysis of the 3-D polarimetric images of each measurement found differences (at times strong differences) among the polarization signatures. There were stronger reflections in all of the HH, VH, VV images in the second (summer) measurement, especially in the VH image, due to the substantial growth of branches and leaves in summer. This ground-truth validation system provided valuable information about the scattering mechanisms of the three trees selected for analysis in different seasons, which can be detected by broadband polarimetric ground-based SAR measurements. The experimental results demonstrate the excellent polarimetric performance of the newly developed SAR imaging system, which should find many useful and immediate applications in noninvasive ground-truth validation of diverse terrestrial vegetation covers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1803-1810
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2004 Sep


  • Polarimetric calibration
  • Radar polarimetry
  • Synthetic aperture radar (SAR)
  • Vegetation monitoring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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