Decorrelation of L-Band and C-Band Interferometry Over Vegetated Areas in California

Wei, M, Sandwell DT.  2010.  Decorrelation of L-Band and C-Band Interferometry Over Vegetated Areas in California. IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing. 48:2942-2952.

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aperture radar interferometry, correlation, creep, crustal deformation, earths surface, interferometry, parkfield, pol-insar, radar (SAR), san-andreas fault, synthetic aperture


Temporal decorrelation is one of the main limitations for recovering interseismic deformation along the San Andreas Fault system using interferometric synthetic aperture radar. To assess the improved correlation properties of L-band with respect to C-band, we analyzed L-band Advanced Land Observation Satellite (ALOS) interferograms with a range of temporal and spatial baselines over three vegetated areas in California and compared them with corresponding C-band European Remote Sensing Satellite (ERS) interferograms. Over the highly vegetated Northern California forests in the Coast Range area, ALOS remains remarkably well correlated over a 2-year period, whereas an ERS interferogram with a similar temporal and spatial baseline lost correlation. In Central California near Parkfield, we found a similar pattern in decorrelation behavior, which enabled the recovery of a fault creep and a local uplifting signal at L-band that was not apparent at C-band. In the Imperial Valley in Southern California, both ALOS and ERS have low correlation over farmlands. ALOS has lower correlation over some sandy surfaces than ERS, probably due to low signal-to-noise ratio. In general, L-band interferograms with similar seasonal acquisitions have higher correlation than those with dissimilar season. For both L-and C-band, correlation over vegetated areas decreases with time for intervals less than 1 year and then remains relatively constant at longer time intervals. The decorrelation time for L-band is more than 2 years in the forest in California whereas that for C-band is less than 6 months. Overall, these results suggest that L-band interferograms will reveal near-fault interseismic deformation once sufficient data become available.