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The contribution of ALOS PALSAR multipolarization and polarimetric data to crop classification

McNairn, H., Shang, J., Jiao, X., Champagne, C. (2009). The contribution of ALOS PALSAR multipolarization and polarimetric data to crop classification, 47(12), 3981-3992.


Mapping and monitoring changes in the distribution of cropland provide information that aids sustainable approaches to agriculture and supports early warning of threats to global and regional food security. This paper tested the capability of Phased Array type L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) (PALSAR) multipolarization and polarimetric data for crop classification. L-band results were compared with those achieved with a C-band SAR data set (ASAR and RADARSAT-1), an integrated C- and L-band data set, and a multitemporal optical data set. Using all L-band linear polarizations, corn, soybeans, cereals, and hay-pasture were classified to an overall accuracy of 70%. A more temporally rich C-band data set provided an accuracy of 80%. Larger biomass crops were well classified using the PALSAR data. C-band data were needed to accurately classify low biomass crops. With a multifrequency data set, an overall accuracy of 88.7% was reached, and many individual crops were classified to accuracies better than 90%. These results were competitive with the overall accuracy achieved using three Landsat images (88.0%). L-band parameters derived from three decomposition approaches (CloudePottier, FreemanDurden, and Krogager) produced superior crop classification accuracies relative to those achieved using the linear polarizations. Using the Krogager decomposition parameters from all three PALSAR acquisitions, an overall accuracy of 77.2% was achieved. The results reported in this paper emphasize the value of polarimetric, as well as multifrequency SAR, data for crop classification. With such a diverse capability, a SAR-only approach to crop classification becomes increasingly viable. © 2009 IEEE.

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