Making SAR Data Accessible - ASF’s ALOS PALSAR Radiometric Terrain Correction Project
Abstract:While SAR data have proven valuable for a wide range of geophysical research questions, so far, largely only the SAR-educated science communities have been able to fully exploit the information content of internationally available SAR archives. The main issues that have been preventing a more widespread utilization of SAR are related to (1) the diversity and complexity of SAR data formats, (2) the complexity of the processing flows needed to extract geophysical information from SAR, (3) the lack of standardization and automation of these processing flows, and (4) the often ignored geocoding procedures, leaving the data in image coordinate space.
In order to improve upon this situation, ASF’s radiometric terrain-correction (RTC) project is generating uniformly formatted and easily accessible value-added products from the ASF Distributed Active Archive Center’s (DAAC) five-year archive of JAXA’s ALOS PALSAR sensor. Specifically, the project applies geometric and radiometric corrections to SAR data to allow for an easy and direct combination of obliquely acquired SAR data with remote sensing imagery acquired in nadir observation geometries. Finally, the value-added data is provided to the user in the broadly accepted Geotiff format, in order to support the easy integration of SAR data into GIS environments. The goal of ASF’s RTC project is to make SAR data more accessible and more attractive to the broader SAR applications community, especially to those users that currently have limited SAR expertise. Production of RTC products commenced October 2014 and will conclude late in 2015. As of July 2015, processing of 71% of ASF’s ALOS PALSAR archive was completed. Adding to the utility of this dataset are recent changes to the data access policy that allow the full-resolution RTC products to be provided to the public, without restriction.
In this paper we will introduce the processing flow that was developed for the RTC project and summarize the calibration and validation procedures that were implemented to determine and monitor system performance. The paper will also show the current progress of RTC processing, provide examples of generated data sets, and demonstrate the benefit of the RTC archives for applications such as land-use classification and change detection.