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Keywords:

  • remote sensing;
  • ENVISAT ASAR ;
  • ALOS PALSAR ;
  • coastal marshes;
  • storm surge;
  • tidal inundation

Abstract

Satellite Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) was evaluated as a method to operationally monitor the occurrence and distribution of storm- and tidal-related flooding of spatially extensive coastal marshes within the north-central Gulf of Mexico. Maps representing the occurrence of marsh surface inundation were created from available Advanced Land Observation Satellite (ALOS) Phased Array type L-Band SAR (PALSAR) (L-band) (21 scenes with HH polarizations in Wide Beam [100 m]) data and Environmental Satellite (ENVISAT) Advanced SAR (ASAR) (C-band) data (24 scenes with VV and HH polarizations in Wide Swath [150 m]) during 2006-2009 covering 500 km of the Louisiana coastal zone. Mapping was primarily based on a decrease in backscatter between reference and target scenes, and as an extension of previous studies, the flood inundation mapping performance was assessed by the degree of correspondence between inundation mapping and inland water levels. Both PALSAR- and ASAR-based mapping at times were based on suboptimal reference scenes; however, ASAR performance seemed more sensitive to reference-scene quality and other types of scene variability. Related to water depth, PALSAR and ASAR mapping accuracies tended to be lower when water depths were shallow and increased as water levels decreased below or increased above the ground surface, but this pattern was more pronounced with ASAR. Overall, PALSAR-based inundation accuracies averaged 84% (= 160), while ASAR-based mapping accuracies averaged 62% (= 245).