LONG-TERM MONITORING OF WATER DYNAMICS IN THE SAHEL REGION USING THE MULTI-SAR-SYSTEM
Keywords: SAR, Geocoding, Kennaugh, Sahel Region, Water Dynamics, Long-term Monitoring
Abstract. Fresh water is a scarce resource in the West-African Sahel region, seasonally influenced by droughts and floods. Particularly in terms of climate change, the importance of wetlands increases for flora, fauna, human population, agriculture, livestock and fishery. Hence, access to open water is a key factor. Long-term monitoring of water dynamics is of great importance, especially with regard to the spatio-temporal extend of wetlands and drylands. It can predict future trends and facilitate the development of adequate management strategies. Lake Tabalak, a Ramsar wetland of international importance, is one of the most significant ponds in Niger and a refuge for waterbirds. Nevertheless, human population growth increased the pressure on this ecosystem, which is now degrading for all uses. The main objective of the study is a long-term monitoring of the Lake Tabalak’s water dynamics to delineate permanent and seasonal water bodies, using weather- and daytime-independent multi-sensor and multi-temporal Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data available for the study area. Data of the following sensors from 1993 until 2016 are used: Sentinel-1A, TerraSARX, ALOS PALSAR-1/2, Envisat ASAR, RADARSAT-1/2, and ERS-1/2. All SAR data are processed with the Multi-SAR-System, unifying the different characteristics of all above mentioned sensors in terms of geometric, radiometric and polarimetric resolution to a consistent format. The polarimetric representation in Kennaugh elements allows fusing single-polarized data acquired by older sensors with multi-polarized data acquired by current sensors. The TANH-normalization guarantees a consistent and therefore comparable description in a closed data range in terms of radiometry. The geometric aspect is solved by projecting all images to an earth-fixed coordinate system correcting the brightness by the help of the incidence angle. The elevation model used in the geocoding step is the novel global model produced by the TanDEM-X satellite mission. The advantage of the Multi-SAR-System is that it comprises ortho-rectification, radiometric enhancement, normalization and Kennaugh decomposition, independent from sensors, modes, polarizations or acquisition date of SAR data. In addition, optical satellite data can be included as well, to fill gaps where SAR data are missing due to the special normalization scheme. This kind of pre-processing is exclusively implemented at the Earth Observation Center of the German Aerospace Center in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany. Therefore, the dynamic change of the open water of the Lake Tabalak could be classified over dry and rainy seasons and years, using different SAR data. The study provides a unique database and contributes to a better understanding of wetland systems in the Sahel region influenced by human pressure and climate change.