Sensitivity Analysis of Sentinel-1 Backscatter to Oil Palm Plantations at Pluriannual Scale: A Case Study in Gabon, Africa

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Title: Sensitivity Analysis of Sentinel-1 Backscatter to Oil Palm Plantations at Pluriannual Scale: A Case Study in Gabon, Africa
Authors: Ballester-Berman, J. David | Rastoll-Gimenez, Maria
Research Group/s: Señales, Sistemas y Telecomunicación
Center, Department or Service: Universidad de Alicante. Departamento de Física, Ingeniería de Sistemas y Teoría de la Señal | Universidad de Alicante. Instituto Universitario de Investigación Informática
Keywords: Deforestation | Oil palm | Sentinel-1 | Radar | Backscattering | Gabon
Knowledge Area: Teoría de la Señal y Comunicaciones
Issue Date: 25-May-2021
Publisher: MDPI
Citation: Ballester-Berman JD, Rastoll-Gimenez M. Sensitivity Analysis of Sentinel-1 Backscatter to Oil Palm Plantations at Pluriannual Scale: A Case Study in Gabon, Africa. Remote Sensing. 2021; 13(11):2075.
Abstract: The present paper focuses on a sensitivity analysis of Sentinel-1 backscattering signatures from oil palm canopies cultivated in Gabon, Africa. We employed one Sentinel-1 image per year during the 2015–2021 period creating two separated time series for both the wet and dry seasons. The first images were almost simultaneously acquired to the initial growth stage of oil palm plants. The VH and VV backscattering signatures were analysed in terms of their corresponding statistics for each date and compared to the ones corresponding to tropical forests. The times series for the wet season showed that, in a time interval of 2–3 years after oil palm plantation, the VV/VH ratio in oil palm parcels increases above the one for forests. Backscattering and VV/VH ratio time series for the dry season exhibit similar patterns as for the wet season but with a more stable behaviour. The separability of oil palm and forest classes was also quantitatively addressed by means of the Jeffries–Matusita distance, which seems to point to the C-band VV/VH ratio as a potential candidate for discrimination between oil palms and natural forests, although further analysis must still be carried out. In addition, issues related to the effect of the number of samples in this particular scenario were also analysed. Overall, the outcomes presented here can contribute to the understanding of the radar signatures from this scenario and to potentially improve the accuracy of mapping techniques for this type of ecosystems by using remote sensing. Nevertheless, further research is still to be done as no classification method was performed due to the lack of the required geocoded reference map. In particular, a statistical assessment of the radar signatures should be carried out to statistically characterise the observed trends.
Sponsor: This research was in part funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, State Research Agency (AEI) and the European Regional Development Fund under project TEC2017-85244-C2-1-P, and by the University of Alacant under Programa Propi per al Foment de la R+D+I (Grants VIGROB20-114 and UADIF20-74).
ISSN: 2072-4292
DOI: 10.3390/rs13112075
Language: eng
Type: info:eu-repo/semantics/article
Rights: © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
Peer Review: si
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