UAVSAR and TerraSAR-X Based InSAR Detection of Localized Subsidence in the New Orleans Area

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 8:30 AM
Ronald G Blom1, Karen An1, Cathleen E Jones1 and Daniele Latini2, (1)NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, United States, (2)University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy
Vulnerability of the US Gulf coast to inundation has received increased attention since hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Compounding effects of sea level rise, wetland loss, and regional and local subsidence makes flood protection a difficult challenge, and particularly for the New Orleans area. Key to flood protection is precise knowledge of elevations and elevation changes. Analysis of historical and continuing geodetic measurements show surprising complexity, including locations subsiding more rapidly than considered during planning of hurricane protection and coastal restoration projects. Combining traditional, precise geodetic data with interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) observations can provide geographically dense constraints on surface deformation. The Gulf Coast environment is challenging for InSAR techniques, especially with systems not designed for interferometry. We use two InSAR capable systems, the L- band (24 cm wavelength) airborne JPL/NASA UAVSAR, and the DLR/EADS Astrium spaceborne TerraSAR X-band (3 cm wavelength), and compare results. First, we are applying pair-wise InSAR to the longer wavelength UAVSAR data to detect localized elevation changes potentially impacting flood protection infrastructure from 2009 - 2014. We focus on areas on and near flood protection infrastructure to identify changes indicative of subsidence, structural deformation, and/or seepage. The Spaceborne TerraSAR X-band SAR system has relatively frequent observations, and dense persistent scatterers in urban areas, enabling measurement of very small displacements. We compare L-band UAVSAR results with permanent scatterer (PS-InSAR) and Short Baseline Subsets (SBAS) interferometric analyses of a stack composed by 28 TerraSAR X-band images acquired over the same period. Thus we can evaluate results from the different radar frequencies and analyses techniques. Preliminary results indicate subsidence features potentially of a variety of causes, including ground water pumping to post recent construction ground compaction. Our overall goal is to enable incorporation of InSAR into the decision making process via identification and delineation of areas of persistent subsidence, and provide input to improve monitoring and planning in flood risk areas.