Applications of Radarsat-1 synthetic aperture radar imagery to assess hurricane-related flooding of coastal Louisiana

Kiage, Lawrence, N. Walker, S. Balasubrananian, A. Babin and J. Barras

The Louisiana coast is subjected to hurricane impacts including flooding of human settlements, river channels and coastal marshes, and salt water intrusion. Information on the extent of the flooding is often required quickly for emergency relief, repairs of infrastructure, and production of flood risk maps. This study investigates the feasibility of using Radarsat-1 SAR imagery to detect flooded areas in coastal Louisiana after Hurricane Lili, October 2002. Arithmetic differencing and multi-temporal enhancement techniques were employed to detect flooding and to investigate relationships between backscatter and water level changes. Strong positive correlations (R^2=0.7-0.94 were observed between water level and SAR backscatter within marsh areas proximate to Atchafalaya Bay. Although variations in elevation and vegetation type did influence and complicate the radar signature at individual sites, multi-date differences in backscatter largely reflected the patterns of flooding within large marsh areas. Preliminary analyses show that SAR imagery was not useful in mapping urban flooding in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina's landfall on 29 August 2005.

Ref: International Journal of Remote Sensing, Vol. 26, No. 24, Oct. 26, 2005

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