After an earthquake, rapidly and accurately obtaining building damage information can help to effectively guide the implementation of the emergency rescue and can reduce disaster losses and casualties. Using a single post-earthquake fully-polarimetric synthetic aperture radar (PolSAR) image to interpret building damage information not only involves a guaranteed data source but is also easy and can be rapidly implemented. This paper is focused on rapid building earthquake damage detection in urban areas using post-earthquake PolSAR data. In PolSAR images, the undamaged buildings parallel to satellite flight pass are different from the collapsed buildings, but the undamaged buildings divergent to satellite flight pass are very similar to collapsed buildings because of their volume scattering characteristics. In this paper, the method of polarization orientation angle (POA) compensation is employed to increase the scattering power of buildings divergent to satellite flight pass, and then Wishart supervised classification is implemented on the PolSAR data after POA compensation. In addition, the two parameters of normalized difference of the dihedral component (NDDC) and ρHHHV
are proposed to improve the classification accuracy of the Wishart supervised classification, and both the undamaged buildings and collapsed buildings are determined. The study was carried out after the “4.14” Yushu earthquake in Yushu County, Qinghai province, China. The three damage levels are set for the urban area at the city block scale according to the values of the BBCR
building damage index. The experimental results confirm that the scheme proposed in this paper can greatly improve the accuracy of the extraction of building damage information.
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