Interferometric SAR Coherence Models for Characterization of Hemiboreal Forests Using TanDEM-X Data

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Aire Olesk
  • Jaan Praks

  • Oleg Antropov
  • Karlis Zalite
  • Tauri Arumae
  • Kaupo Voormansik

Research units

  • University of Tartu
  • Tartu Observatory
  • VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
  • Lund University
  • Estonian University of Life Sciences


In this study, four models describing the interferometric coherence of the forest vegetation layer are proposed and compared with the TanDEM-X data. Our focus is on developing tools for hemiboreal forest height estimation from single-pol interferometric SAR measurements, suitable for wide area forest mapping with limited a priori information. The multi-temporal set of 19 TanDEM-X interferometric pairs and the 90th percentile forest height maps are derived from Airborne LiDAR Scanning (ALS), covering an area of 2211 ha of forests over Estonia. Three semi-empirical models along with the Random Volume over Ground (RVoG) model are examined for applicable parameter ranges and model performance under various conditions for over 3000 forest stands. This study shows that all four models performed well in describing the relationship between forest height and interferometric coherence. Use of an advanced model with multiple parameters is not always justified when modeling the volume decorrelation in the boreal and hemiboreal forests. The proposed set of semi-empirical models, show higher robustness compared to a more advanced RVoG model under a range of seasonal and environmental conditions during data acquisition. We also examine the dynamic range of parameters that different models can take and propose optimal conditions for forest stand height inversion for operationally-feasible scenarios.


Original languageEnglish
Article number700
Number of pages23
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • forest height, radar interferometry, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), TanDEM-X, vegetation mapping, X-band, InSAR, semi-empirical models, coherence, LiDAR, SYNTHETIC-APERTURE RADAR, BOREAL FOREST, HEIGHT ESTIMATION, TERRASAR-X, POL-INSAR, BIOMASS ESTIMATION, ABOVEGROUND BIOMASS, STEM VOLUME, BAND, INVERSION

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