Change Detection UsingMultitemporal SAR Images

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Abstract: Multitemporal SAR images have been used successfully for the detection of different types of environmental changes. The detection of urban change using SAR images is complicated due to the special characteristics of SAR images—for example, the existence of speckle and the complex mixture of the urban environment. This thesis investigates the detection of urban changes using SAR images with the following specific objectives: (1) to investigate unsupervised change detection, (2) to investigate reduction of the speckle effect and (3) to investigate spatio-contextual change detection. Beijing and Shanghai, the largest cities in China, were selected as study areas. Multitemporal SAR images acquired by ERS-2 SAR (1998~1999) and Envisat ASAR (2008~2009) sensors were used to detect changes that have occurred in these cities.Unsupervised change detection using SAR images is investigated using the Kittler-Illingworth algorithm. The problem associated with the diversity of urban changes—namely, more than one typology of change—is addressed using the modified ratio operator. This operator clusters both positive and negative changes on one side of the change-image histogram. To model the statistics of the changed and the unchanged classes, four different probability density functions were tested. The analysis indicates that the quality of the resulting change map will strongly depends on the density model chosen. The analysis also suggests that use of a local adaptive filter (e.g., enhanced Lee) removes fine geometric details from the scene.Speckle suppression and geometric detail preservation in SAR-based change detection, are addressed using the nonlocal means (NLM) algorithm. In this algorithm, denoising is achieved through a weighted averaging process, in which the weights are a function of the similarity of small image patches defined around each pixel in the image. To decrease the computational complexity, the PCA technique is used to reduce the dimensionality of the neighbourhood feature vectors. Simple methods to estimate the dimensionality of the new space and the required noise variance are proposed. The experimental results show that the NLM algorithm outperformed traditional local adaptive filters (e.g., enhanced Lee) in eliminating the effect of speckle and in maintaining the geometric structures in the scene. The analysis also indicates that filtering the change variable instead of the individual SAR images is effective in terms of both the quality of the results and the time needed to carry out the computation.The third research focuses on the application of Markov random field (MRF) in change detection using SAR images. The MRF-based change detection algorithm shows limited capacity to simultaneously maintain fine geometric detail in urban areas and combat the effect of speckle noise. This problem has been addressed through the introduction of a global constraint on the pixels’ class labels. Based on NLM theory, a global probability model is developed. The iterated conditional mode (ICM) scheme for the optimization of the MAP-MRF criterion function is extended to include a step that forces the maximization of the global probability model. The experimental results show that the proposed algorithm is better at preserving the fine structural detail, effective in reducing the effect of speckle, less sensitive to the value of the contextual parameter, and less affected by the quality of the initial change map compared with traditional MRF-based change detection algorithm.

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