The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume XL-3
11 Aug 2014
 | 11 Aug 2014

SAR Image Segmentation Using Morphological Attribute Profiles

M. Boldt, A. Thiele, K. Schulz, and S. Hinz

Keywords: Synthetic Aperture Radar, SAR, TerraSAR-X, Object-Based Image Analysis, OBIA, Mathematical Morphology, Attribute Profiles, AP, Differential Attribute Profiles, DAP, segmentation

Abstract. In the last years, the spatial resolution of remote sensing sensors and imagery has continuously improved. Focusing on spaceborne Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensors, the satellites of the current generation (TerraSAR-X, COSMO-SykMed) are able to acquire images with sub-meter resolution. Indeed, high resolution imagery is visually much better interpretable, but most of the established pixel-based analysis methods have become more or less impracticable since, in high resolution images, self-sufficient objects (vehicle, building) are represented by a large number of pixels. Methods dealing with Object-Based Image Analysis (OBIA) provide help. Objects (segments) are groupings of pixels resulting from image segmentation algorithms based on homogeneity criteria. The image set is represented by image segments, which allows the development of rule-based analysis schemes. For example, segments can be described or categorized by their local neighborhood in a context-based manner.

In this paper, a novel method for the segmentation of high resolution SAR images is presented. It is based on the calculation of morphological differential attribute profiles (DAP) which are analyzed pixel-wise in a region growing procedure. The method distinguishes between heterogeneous and homogeneous image content and delivers a precise segmentation result.