Enhancing Coherence Images for Coherent Change Detection: An Example on Vehicle Tracks in Airborne SAR Images
In Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) interferometry, one of the most widely used measures for the quality of the interferometric phase is coherence. However, in favorable conditions coherence can also be used to detect subtle changes on the ground, which are not visible in the amplitude images. For such applications, i.e., coherent change detection, it is important to have a good contrast between the unchanged (high-coherence) parts of the scene and the changed (low-coherence) parts. In this paper, an algorithm is introduced that aims at enhancing this contrast. The enhancement is achieved by a combination of careful filtering of the amplitude images and the interferometric phase image. The algorithm is applied to an airborne interferometric SAR image pair recorded by the SmartRadar experimental sensor of Hensoldt Sensors GmbH. The data were recorded during a measurement campaign over the Bann B installations of POLYGONE Range in southern Rhineland-Palatinate (Germany), with a time gap of approximately four hours between the overflights. In-between the overflights, several vehicles were moved on the site and the goal of this work is to enhance the coherence image such that the tracks of these vehicles can be detected as completely as possible in an automated way. Several coherence estimation schemes found in the literature are explored for the enhancement, as well as several commonly used speckle filters. The results of these filtering steps are evaluated visually and quantitatively, showing that the mean gray-level difference between the low-coherence tracks and their high-coherence surroundings could be enhanced by at least 28%. Line extraction is then applied to the best enhancement. The results show that the tracks can be detected much more completely using the coherence contrast enhancement scheme proposed in this paper.