Comparison of Target Detectors to Identify Icebergs in Quad-Polarimetric L-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar Data



Bailey J, Marino A & Akbari V (2021) Comparison of Target Detectors to Identify Icebergs in Quad-Polarimetric L-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar Data. Remote Sensing, 13 (9), Art. No.: 1753.

Icebergs represent hazards to ships and maritime activities and therefore their detection is essential. Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites are very useful for this, due to their capability to acquire data under cloud cover and during day and night passes. In this work, we compared six state-of-the-art polarimetric target detectors to test their performance and ability to detect small-sized icebergs < 120 m in four locations in Greenland. We used four single-look complex (SLC) ALOS-2 quad-polarimetric images from JAXA for quad-polarimetric detection and we compared with dual-polarimetric detectors using only the channels HH and HV. We also compared these detectors with single-polarimetric intensity channels and we tested using two scenarios: open ocean and sea ice. Our results show that the multi-look polarimetric whitening filter (MPWF) and the optimal polarimetric detector (OPD) provide the most optimal performance in quad- and dual-polarimetric mode detection. The analysis shows that, overall, quad-polarimetric detectors provide the best detection performance. When the false alarm rate (PF) is fixed to 10−5, the probabilities of detection (PD) are 0.99 in open ocean and 0.90 in sea ice. Dual-polarimetric or single-polarimetric detectors show an overall reduction in performance (the ROC curves show a decrease), but this degradation is not very large (< 0.1) when the value of false alarms is relatively high (i.e., we are interested in bigger icebergs with a brighter backscattering > 120 m, as they are easier to detect). However, the differences between quad- and dual- or single-polarimetric detectors became much more evident when the PF value was fixed to low detection probabilities 10−6 (i.e., smaller icebergs). In the single-polarimetric mode, the HV channel showed PD values of 0.62 for open ocean and 0.26 for sea ice, compared to values of 0.81 (open ocean) and 0.77 (sea ice) obtained with quad-polarimetric detectors.

detection; icebergs; sea ice; polarimetry; SAR

Remote Sensing: Volume 13, Issue 9

FundersJapan Aerospace Exploration Agency
Publication date31/05/2021
Publication date online30/04/2021
Date accepted by journal29/04/2021
PublisherMDPI AG

People (3)


Dr Vahid Akbari
Dr Vahid Akbari

Research Fellow, Computing Science

Mr Sonny Bailey
Mr Sonny Bailey

PhD Researcher, Biological and Environmental Sciences

Dr Armando Marino
Dr Armando Marino

Senior Lecturer in Earth Observation, Biological and Environmental Sciences