Interferometric synthetic aperture radar atmospheric correction using a GPS-based iterative tropospheric decomposition model

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Published in Remote Sensing of Environment, 2017

Yu, C., Li, Z., & Penna, N. T.


Atmospheric effects represent one of the major error sources of repeat-pass Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR), and could mask actual displacements due to tectonic or volcanic deformation. The tropospheric delays vary both vertically and laterally and can be considered as the sum of (i) a vertically stratified component highly correlated with topography and (ii) a turbulent component resulting from turbulent processes in the troposphere varying both in space and time. In this paper, we outline a framework to routinely use pointwise GPS data to reduce tropospheric effects on satellite radar measurements. An Iterative Tropospheric Decomposition (ITD) model is used and further developed to separate tropospheric stratified and turbulent signals and then generate high-resolution correction maps for SAR interferograms. Cross validation is employed to assess the performance of the ITD model and act as an indicator to users of when and where correction is feasible. Tests were carried out to assess the impact of GPS station spacing on the ITD model InSAR correction performance, which provides insights into the trade-off between station spacing and the achievable accuracy. The application of this framework to Sentinel-1A interferograms over the Southern California (USA) and Southern England (UK) regions shows approximately 45–78% of noise reduction even with a sparse (~ 50–80 km station spacing) GPS network and/or with strong and non-random tropospheric turbulence. This is about a 50% greater improvement than previous methods. It is believed that this framework could lead to a generic InSAR atmospheric correction model while incorporating continuous and global tropospheric delay datasets, e.g. numerical weather models.

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