These two SAR images of the coastline of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates were acquired by ERS-2 on 20 May 1999 and Envisat on 21 April 2003. The latter image shows the Palm Jumeirah development under construction.
The rapidly changing face of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is portrayed by contrasting Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images taken less than four years apart, most notably as a whole new artificial island is seen to rise from the seabed.
An initial radar image of Dubai was taken by ERS-2’s SAR instrument in May 1999. The coastal city has since been re-imaged by the Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) instrument aboard Envisat, ESA’s latest Earth Observation satellite. Unlike optical imagery, SAR images work by mapping surface roughness, based on the strength of radar backscatter reflected back up to space.
The increased white areas in the Envisat ASAR image compared to the ERS-2 image from 1999 - caused by radar reflecting strongly off building surfaces – are evidence of changes as mass construction programmes continue to develop the city.
Frédéric Le Gall | ESA
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