InSAR-Detected Tidal Flow in Louisiana’s Coastal Wetlands

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Talib Oliver-Cabrera and Shimon Wdowinski, University of Miami, Miami, FL, United States
The Louisiana coast is among the most productive coastal area in the US and home to the largest coastal wetland area in the nation. However, Louisiana coastal wetlands have been threatened by natural (sea-level rise) and human (infrastructure development) stresses; they constitute the major part of the wetland loss of the country. Monitoring Louisiana’s coastal wetlands represent a large challenge for local and federal authorities due to the large amount of area and hostile environment. Insofar, optical remote sensing observations have been used to classify the wetlands, monitor land cover changes, and assess the wetland loss over time. However, optical data is insensitive to surface flow and, hence, unable to detect the width of the tidal zone and changes in this area over time. SAR interferometry can provide useful information and ease the monitoring task. Wetland InSAR is the only application of the InSAR technology that provides information of aquatic surface. It provides useful information on surface water level changes in both inland and coastal wetlands. In this study, we use InSAR and tide gauge observations to detect and compare surface water level changes in response to ocean tide propagation through the Louisiana coastal wetlands. Our data consist of ALOS PALSAR, Radarsat-1 and tide gauge information over the coast of Louisiana. In order to detect water level changes, we used mainly high coherence interferferograms with short temporal baselines (46-92 days for ALOS data and 24-48 days for Radarsat-1). Interferometric processing of the data provides details maps of water level changes in the coastal zone. Preliminary results indicate tidal changes of up 30 cm and that tidal flow is limited to 8-10 km from the open water. Our results also show that the tidal flow is disrupted by various man-made structures as, canals and roads. The high spatial resolution wetland InSAR observations can provide useful constraints for detailed coastal wetland flow models.