, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 113-122,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 10 Aug 2012

Optimization of threshold ranges for rapid flood inundation mapping by evaluating backscatter profiles of high incidence angle SAR images


Rapid satellite-based flood inundation mapping and delivery of flood inundation maps during a flood event can provide crucial information for planners and decision makers to prioritize relief and rescue operations. The present study is undertaken to optimize the threshold ranges for the classification of flood water in Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images (of 20° to 49° incidence angles) for quick flood inundation mapping and response during flood disasters. This is done through assessing the signature of flood water in Horizontal transmit and Horizontal received (HH), Horizontal transmit and Vertical received (HV), Vertical transmit and Horizontal received (VH), and Vertical transmit and Vertical received (VV) polarization radar data. The mean backscattering signature profiles of various water bodies were analyzed to discriminate flood water from other water bodies. The study shows that there is better demarcation of land-water surface in HH polarization. VV polarization has the potential to identify partially submerged features, which can be useful in flood damage assessments. The backscatter of flood water in HV and VH is the same and both HV and VH polarizations are adequate for the mapping of flood water. At near range to far range, −8 to −12 dB, −15 to −24 dB, and −6 to −15 dB can be used as optimum ranges for the classification of flood water in HH, HV, and VV polarizations. These optimum threshold ranges can be applied to the automation of flood mapping using SAR images in near-real time, where much time was often spent on finding the thresholds in order to produce flood inundation maps in a short time from the onset of flood disasters and deliver such maps to the concerned agencies.

This article is published with open access at Springerlink.com