The fine resolution of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images enables the rapid detection of severely damaged areas in the case of natural disasters. Developing an optimal model for detecting damage in multitemporal SAR intensity images has been a focus of research. Recent studies have shown that computing changes over a moving window that clusters neighboring pixels is effective in identifying damaged buildings. Unfortunately, classifying tsunami-induced building damage into detailed damage classes remains a challenge. The purpose of this paper is to present a novel multiclass classification model that considers a high-dimensional feature space derived from several sizes of pixel windows and to provide guidance on how to define a multiclass classification scheme for detecting tsunami-induced damage. The proposed model uses a support vector machine (SVM) to determine the parameters of the discriminant function. The generalization ability of the model was tested on the field survey of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami and on a pair of TerraSAR-X images. The results show that the combination of different sizes of pixel windows has better performance for multiclass classification using SAR images. In addition, we discuss the limitations and potential use of multiclass building damage classification based on performance and various classification schemes. Notably, our findings suggest that the detectable classes for tsunami damage appear to differ from the detectable classes for earthquake damage. For earthquake damage, it is well known that a lower damage grade can rarely be distinguished in SAR images. However, such a damage grade is apparently easy to identify from tsunami-induced damage grades in SAR images. Taking this characteristic into consideration, we have successfully defined a detectable three-class classification scheme.
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