Towards an operational SAR monitoring system for monitoring environmental flows in the Macquarie Marshes

Abstract

Multi-frequency synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data was acquired over the Macquarie Marshes Nature Reserve in north central New South Wales (NSW), Australia, to demonstrate the potential of imaging radar for mapping and monitoring wetland extent and inundation patterns in an inland, semi-arid wetland environment. A sequence of ALOS PALSAR and TerraSAR-X images acquired between January 2007 and April 2008 captured the wetlands in three successive phases: dry, wet and transitional. Visual observation of multi-temporal and multi-frequency SAR backscatter data confirmed the capacity of SAR to respond to changes in surface water, soil moisture and biomass. Longer wavelength L-band SAR provides a tool for discriminating wetlands, mapping surface water and detecting below-canopy inundation. Shorter wavelength X-band SAR provides a tool for detecting flushes in growth of vegetation in response to higher soil moisture from flooding. PALSAR data demonstrated a high capacity for discrimination of different wetland classes, while TerraSAR-X data was less suited to discriminating between cover types. The integration of X- and L-band data revealed the extent of floodplain inundation and presence of aquatic vegetation in ponded areas. Given a stable, well-calibrated time-series of SAR data, change analysis provides a mechanism for understanding the hydrological and/or ecological change in an area. In the longer term, it is envisioned that radar will provide a valuable tool within an operational system for monitoring the impact of environmental flows in NSW inland wetlands.

DOI: 10.1007/s11273-014-9358-2

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@article{Mitchell2014TowardsAO, title={Towards an operational SAR monitoring system for monitoring environmental flows in the Macquarie Marshes}, author={Anthea L. Mitchell and Anthony K. Milne and Ian Tapley}, journal={Wetlands Ecology and Management}, year={2014}, volume={23}, pages={61-77} }