Abstract

We present a maximum a posteriori (MAP) classifier for classifying multifrequency, multilook, single polarization, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) intensity data into regions or ensembles of pixels of homogeneous and similar radar backscatter characteristics. A model for the prior joint distribution of the multifrequency SAR intensity data is combined with a Markov random field for representing the interactions between region labels to obtain an expression for the posterior distribution of the region labels given the multifrequency SAR observations. The maximization of the posterior distribution yields Bayes’s optimum region labeling or classification of the SAR data or its MAP estimate. The performance of the MAP classifier is evaluated by using computer-simulated multilook SAR intensity data as a function of the parameters in the classification process. Multilook SAR intensity data are shown to yield higher classification accuracies than one-look SAR complex amplitude data. Examples using actual two-frequency, four-look, SAR intensity data acquired by the NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory airborne polarimetric SAR are presented. The MAP classifier is extended to the case in which the radar backscatter from the remotely sensed surface varies within the SAR image because of incidence angle effects. The results obtained illustrate the practicality of the method for combining SAR intensity observations acquired at two different frequencies and for improving classification accuracy of SAR data.

© 1993 Optical Society of America

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