Skip Links

USGS - science for a changing world

Open-File Report 2011–1208

Prepared in cooperation with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Monitoring Coastal Inundation with Synthetic Aperture Radar Satellite Data

By Yukihiro Suzuoki, Amina Rangoonwala, and Elijah Ramsey III

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (5.31 MB) Abstract

Maps representing the presence and absence of surface inundation in the Louisiana coastal zone were created from available satellite scenes acquired by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Advanced Land Observing Satellite and by the European Space Agency’s Envisat from late 2006 through summer 2009. Detection of aboveground surface flooding relied on the well-documented and distinct signature of decreased backscatter in Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), which is indicative of inundated marsh in the Gulf of Mexico. Even though decreases in backscatter were distinctive, the multiplicity of possible interactions between changing flood depths and canopy height yielded complex SAR-based representations of the marshes.

Validated by comparison to inland water levels, success of inundation mapping was primarily related to the operational frequencies of the SAR used to perform the mapping. Success of mapping was based on frequency of correspondence between satellite- and ground-based data. Overall, the most successful mapping (83 percent correspondence) was derived from Phased Array type L-band SAR (PALSAR), while mapping derived from C-band Advanced SAR (ASAR) was less successful (≤61 percent correspondence). Exceptions to the low performance of ASAR-based mapping (defined as >76 percent correspondence) occurred when water levels were well below or above ground, occurring over spatially extensive portions of the ASAR scene.

When mapping day-to-day coastal inundation extents, results indicate that SAR systems operating at C-band frequencies are not as effective as those operating at L-band frequencies; however, multiple factors not related to frequency also reduced the effectiveness of C-Band in detecting subcanopy inundation. C-band has performed and continues to perform exceedingly well in applications for response to dramatic events and when strategic collections are available; however, L-band seems to be more suitable for day-to-day mapping of coastal inundation.

First posted November 8, 2011

For additional information contact:

USGS National Wetlands Research Center
700 Cajundome Blvd.
Lafayette, LA 70506

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Suzuoki, Yukihiro, Rangoonwala, Amina, and Ramsey, Elijah III, 2011, Monitoring coastal inundation with Synthetic Aperture Radar satellite data: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011–1208, 46 p.









Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: Contact USGS
Page Last Modified: Thursday, December 08, 2016, 12:04:43 AM