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Water 2014, 6(3), 694-722; doi:10.3390/w6030694
Article

Detecting Emergence, Growth, and Senescence of Wetland Vegetation with Polarimetric Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Data

1,* , 2
, 3
, 3
, 4
, 4
 and 1
1 Geological Survey, Earth Resources Observation and Science Center, 47914 252nd Street, Sioux Falls, SD 57198-0001, USA 2 Environment Canada, Meteorological Service of Canada, Space Based Monitoring, 373 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, ON K1A 0H3, Canada 3 Canada Centre for Remote Sensing, Earth Sciences Sector, Natural Resources Canada, 588 Booth Street, Ottawa, ON K1A 0Y7, Canada 4 Geological Survey, Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center, 2630 Fanta Reed Road, La Crosse, WI 54603, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 23 December 2013 / Revised: 11 March 2014 / Accepted: 17 March 2014 / Published: 24 March 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wetlands and Sustainability)
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Abstract

Wetlands provide ecosystem goods and services vitally important to humans. Land managers and policymakers working to conserve wetlands require regularly updated information on the statuses of wetlands across the landscape. However, wetlands are challenging to map remotely with high accuracy and consistency. We investigated the use of multitemporal polarimetric synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data acquired with Canada’s Radarsat-2 system to track within-season changes in wetland vegetation and surface water. We speculated, a priori, how temporal and morphological traits of different types of wetland vegetation should respond over a growing season with respect to four energy-scattering mechanisms. We used ground-based monitoring data and other ancillary information to assess the limits and consistency of the SAR data for tracking seasonal changes in wetlands. We found the traits of different types of vertical emergent wetland vegetation were detected well with the SAR data and corresponded with our anticipated backscatter responses. We also found using data from Landsat’s optical/infrared sensors in conjunction with SAR data helped remove confusion of wetland features with upland grasslands. These results suggest SAR data can provide useful monitoring information on the statuses of wetlands over time.
Keywords: synthetic aperture radar; Radarsat-2; wetlands; wetland vegetation; wetland mapping; wetland monitoring; radar polarimetry; Freeman-Durden decomposition; change detection synthetic aperture radar; Radarsat-2; wetlands; wetland vegetation; wetland mapping; wetland monitoring; radar polarimetry; Freeman-Durden decomposition; change detection
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Gallant, A.L.; Kaya, S.G.; White, L.; Brisco, B.; Roth, M.F.; Sadinski, W.; Rover, J. Detecting Emergence, Growth, and Senescence of Wetland Vegetation with Polarimetric Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Data. Water 2014, 6, 694-722.

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