Modeling and interpretation of scattering mechanisms in polarimetric synthetic aperture radar: Advances and perspectives

Si Wei Chen, Yong Zhen Li, Xue Song Wang, Shun Ping Xiao, Motoyuki Sato

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

115 Citations (Scopus)


Polarimetric target decomposition is a powerful technique to interpret scattering mechanisms in polarimetric synthetic aperture radar (PolSAR) data. Eigenvalue-?eigenvector-based and model-based methods are two main categories within the incoherent decomposition techniques. Eigenvalue-eigenvector-based decomposition becomes relatively mature since it has a clearer mathematical background and has only one decomposition solution. In contrast, model-based decompositions can obtain different decomposition solutions in terms of various scattering models. Meanwhile, conventional methods with models or assumptions that do not fit the observations may induce deficiencies. Thereby, the development of effective model-based decompositions has received considerable attention and many advances have been reported. This article aims to provide a review for these notable advances, mainly including the incorporation of orientation compensation processing, nonnegative eigenvalue constraint, generalized scattering models, complete information utilization, full-parameter inversion schemes, and fusion of polarimetry and interferometry. Airborne Pi-SAR data sets are used for demonstration. Besides, natural disaster damage evaluation using model-based decomposition is carried out based on advanced land-observing satellite/phased array type L-band synthetic aperture radar (ALOS/PALSAR) data. Finally, further development perspectives are presented and discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6832840
Pages (from-to)79-89
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Signal Processing Magazine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jul
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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