Statistical analysis for tidal flat classification and topography using multitemporal sar backscattering coefficients

Keunyong Kim, Hahn Chul Jung, Jong Kuk Choi, Joo Hyung Ryu

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Coastal zones are very dynamic natural systems that experience short-term and long-term morphological changes. Their highly dynamic behavior requires frequent monitoring. Tidal flat topography for a large spatial coverage has been generated mainly by the waterline extraction method from multitemporal remote sensing observations. Despite the efficiency and robustness of the waterline extraction method, the waterline-based digital elevation model (DEM) is limited to representing small scale topographic features, such as localized tidal tributaries. Tidal flats show a rapid increase in SAR backscattering coefficients when the tide height is lower than the tidal flat topography compared to when the tidal flat is covered by water. This leads to a tidal flat with a distinct statistical behavior on the temporal variability of our multitemporal SAR backscattering coefficients. Therefore, this study aims to suggest a new method that can overcome the constraints of the waterline-based method by using a pixel-based DEM generation algorithm. Jenks Natural Break (JNB) optimization was applied to distinguish the tidal flat from land and ocean using multitemporal Senitnel-1 SAR data for the years 2014–2020. We also implemented a logistic model to characterize the temporal evolution of the SAR backscattering coefficients along with the tide heights and estimated intertidal topography. The Sentinel-1 DEM from the JNB classification and logistic function was evaluated by an airborne Lidar DEM. Our pixel-based DEM outperformed the waterline-based Landsat DEM. This study demonstrates that our statistical approach to intertidal classification and topography serves to monitor the near real-time spatiotemporal distribution changes of tidal flats through continuous and stable SAR data collection on local and regional scales.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5169
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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