A Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) is an all-weather imaging system that is often used for mapping paddy rice fields and estimating the area. Fully polarimetric SAR is used to detect the microwave scattering property. In this study, a simple threshold analysis of fully polarimetric L-band SAR data was conducted to distinguish paddy rice fields from soybean and other fields. We analysed a set of ten airborne SAR L-band 2 (Pi-SAR-L2) images obtained during the paddy rice growing season (in June, August, and September) from 2012 to 2014 using polarimetric decomposition. Vector data for agricultural land use areas were overlaid on the analysed images and the mean value for each agricultural parcel computed. By quantitatively comparing our data with a reference dataset generated from optical sensor images, effective polarimetric parameters and the ideal observation season were revealed. Double bounce scattering and surface scattering component ratios, derived using a four-component decomposition algorithm, were key to extracting paddy rice fields when the plant stems are vertical with respect to the ground. The alpha angle was also an effective factor for extracting rice fields from an agricultural area. The data obtained during August show maximum agreement with the reference dataset of estimated paddy rice field areas.
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