Investigating landslides and unstable slopes with satellite Multi Temporal Interferometry: Current issues and future perspectives
J Wasowski ; F Bovenga ; - ASI Sponsor
May - 2014
DOI: 10.1016/j.enggeo.2014.03.003

journal : Engineering Geology

Volume : 174 ; type: Article Journal

Multi Temporal Interferometry (MTI) stands for advanced synthetic aperture radar differential interferometry (DInSAR) techniques, which include Permanent/Persistent Scatterers Interferometry — PSInSAR™/PSI and similar methods, as well as Small Baseline Subset — SBAS and related/hybrid approaches. These techniques are capable to provide wide-area coverage (thousands of km2) and precise (mm–cm resolution), spatially dense information (from hundreds to thousands of measurement points/km2) on ground surface deformations. New MTI application opportunities are emerging thanks to i) greater data availability from radar satellites, and ii) improved capabilities of the new space radar sensors (X-band Cosmo-SkyMed, C-band RADARSAT-2, TerraSAR-X) in terms of resolution (from 3 to 1 m) and revisit time (from 11 to 4 days for X-band acquisitions). This implies greater quantity and quality information about ground surface displacements and hence improved landslide detection and monitoring capabilities. Even though the applicability of MTI to regional and local-scale investigations of slow landslides has already been demonstrated, the awareness of the MTI utility and its technical limitations among landslide scientists and practitioners is still rather low. By referring to recent works on radar remote sensing, many regional and local scale MTI application examples from the geoscience literature and our own studies, we present an up-to-date overview of current opportunities and challenges in this field. We discuss relevant technical constraints and data interpretation issues that hamper the use of MTI in landslide assessment. Then guidelines on how to mitigate MTI technical limitations and avoid erroneous interpretations of radar-derived slope surface deformations are presented for the benefit of users lacking advanced knowledge in SAR applications. Finally, in view of the upcoming radar satellite launches, future perspectives on MTI applications are outlined and recommendations for applied research priorities are suggested. We foresee that with regular globe-scale coverage, improved temporal resolution (weekly or better) and freely available imagery, new radar satellite background missions such as the European Space Agency's Sentinel-1 will guarantee ever increasing and more efficient use of MTI in landslide investigations. Furthermore, thanks to the improved temporal and spatial resolutions of the new generation radar sensors, significant breakthroughs are expected in detailed slope instability process modeling (e.g. kinematic and geotechnical models), as well as in the understanding of spatial and temporal patterns of landslide movement/activity and their relationships to causative or triggering factors (e.g. precipitation, seismic loading).

keywords : Multi Temporal Interferometry; Satellite; Landslides; Unstable slopes; Technical constraints; Interpretation issues

Notes : MORFEO project funded by ASI (Contract no. I/045/07/0). CSK imagery for the test site in Calabria Region (Italy) provided by ASI (Agenzia Spaziale Italiana) in the framework of the project “Landslide Monitoring and MappingSystem — CAR-SLIDE” (PON 01 00536.