Comparison of various types of remote sensing data over the Tsaoling landslide within 18 months of the September 1999 magnitude 7.6 Chi Chi earthquake in central Taiwan.
a) Surface classification map made from radar scattering mechanisms obtained through analysis of airborne L-band (0.25 m wavelength) Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) polarimetry (obtained September 27, 2000). Purple = bare surface, green = forest, black = other (including missing data).
b) Grayscale C-band (0.06 m wavelength) image of vertically-polarized backscatter SAR intensity (obtained September 27, 2000).
c) False-color image of Landsat 7 Thematic Mapper (TM) data (February 2001). Green areas are forested, the purple areas are the landslide source area and debris apron, dark areas in the lower half of image are lakes impounded by landslide. Vegetation regrowth is occurring on the debris apron 18 months after the landslide. Compare with radar classification map in a),
d) Indian Research Satellite visible band panchromatic data (October 31, 1999) obtained within six weeks of the landslide. The landslide is the light colored
Columbia researchers develop "fingerprinting" techniques for SAR mapping
Research by scientists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University shows that Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) polarimetry is a more superior technology for rapidly identifying disaster zones than the currently used optical remote sensing technologies, such as Landsat and SPOT. Their findings are published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, and coincide with an opportunity to outfit satellites scheduled for deployment in 2004 with SAR polarimetry instruments.
Rapidly assessing land damage and responding to natural disasters is key to saving lives. SAR mapping has a clear advantage over optical mapping-the results are not hindered by darkness, clouds, or the smoke and dust frequently associated with disaster zones. This new SAR research marks the initial step in developing radar-based maps of damaged landscapes that can be rapidly provided to rescue workers.
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