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A Study on PS-InSAR and D-InSAR for DDM Determination

in Hilly Areas in Taiwan

Jia-Shiang Yang1 and Jaan-Rong Tsay2

Graduate Student, Department of Geomatics, National Cheng Kung University, 1 University

Road, Tainan 70101, Taiwan; Tel: +886-6-2757575#63834,

Associate Professor Dr.-Ing., Department of Geomatics, National Cheng Kung University,

1 University Road, Tainan 70101, Taiwan; Tel: +886-6-2370876#838,


ABSTRACT: The phase information of the SAR(Synthetic Aperture Radar) image is used to
evaluate a large-scale DDM (Digital Displacement Model) in a short time by D-InSAR
(Differential Interferometric SAR). However, there are many practical problems to be solved
somehow, especially in Taiwan, due to dense vegetation cover and quick variation on weather
which would drop coherence. PS-InSAR (Permanent Scatterers Interferometric SAR) adopts
numerous multi-time SAR images to find out permanent scatterers having high coherence. Taking
these permanent scatterers to be unwrapped with multi-dimension algorithm can evaluate
successive displacement along a time series. There is dense vegetation cover in hilly areas in
Taiwan. The quality of DDM determined by D-InSAR is not good because the coherence would
be critically dropped in these hilly areas. However, some permanent scatterers, not adopted by
D-InSAR, can be applied by complex algorithm of PS-InSAR. Taking these permanent scatterers
to be unwrapped with multi-dimension algorithm can evaluate successive displacement along a
time series. The accuracy of PS-InSAR can achieve mm level better than cm level of D-InSAR,
in which the cities and towns are often the computation areas. PS-InSAR is usually used to study
the subsidence with micro-variation. The 921 earthquake occurred in central Taiwan is an
experimental case. The ERS-1 and ERS-2 images are used to operate PS-InSAR and D-InSAR.
The DDMs determined by PS-InSAR and D-InSAR are compared and some practical problems
are analyzed. In this paper, PS-InSAR with the improved method for selecting candidates of
permanent scatterers can estimate displacements on permanent scatterers, which cant be done by
using a general method.
1. Introduction
D-InSAR is a good and reliable method to estimate the sudden deformation caused by earthquake
when high coherence is available. Temporal baseline is forced to become longer when detecting
low-velocity surface deformation like subsidence. In this case, the quality of DDM determined by
D-InSAR will be deteriorated due to the reducing coherence level. Moreover, the presence of
atmospheric artifacts will degrade the quality of deformation data estimated by D-InSAR.
Nevertheless, PS-InSAR can estimate the successive displacement even with a long temporal
baseline. The atmospheric artifacts can be isolated by PS-InSAR. All permanent scatterers have
stable scattering characteristics so that the estimation of deformation is reliable.

As shown in (Aly et al., 2009), (Ferretti et al., 2001) and (Mora et al., 2003), PS-InSAR can
determine an accurate DDM in urban area. Serious subsidence has been occurred in central
Taiwan, especially along the coast in Yunlin and Changhua, which include urban and hilly areas
with extensive cover of vegetation. In this paper, PS-InSAR is applied in a large urban and hilly
area in central Taiwan to test its applicability.
2. DDM Determined by D-InSAR
The DORIS v4.02 is utilized in this experiment to do D-InSAR computations. This public
interferometric SAR software can be downloaded from
supplied by the TU Delft, Netherlands. The 4-pass method is adopted to produce the DDM caused
by the 921 earthquake occurred on September 21, 1999, in the central Taiwan.
2.1 SAR Images
Table 1 Topographic and deformed pairs

Master Image

Slave Image

Baseline ( m ) Baseline (Days)

Number 1
Number 2
(ERS-1: 1996/03/06) (ERS-2: 1996/03/07)


Number 3
Number 4
(ERS-2: 1999/05/06) (ERS-2: 1999/10/28)



Figure 1 The experimental area for D-InSAR
Table 1 reveals the topographic and deformed pairs adopted in the 4-pass D-InSAR. Topographic
pair with ERS-1 image (1996/03/06) and ERS-2 image (1996/03/07) is acquired by Tandem mode
so that the coherence level is very high. The spatial baseline is 80.6 m . The temporal baseline is 1
day so that its interferogram contains almost the topography effect. Across 921 earthquake, both
ERS-2 image (1999/05/06) and ERS-2 image (1999/10/28) are adopted as the deformed pair. The
spatial baseline is 41.1 m . The temporal baseline is 175 days. Unwrapping the differential

interferogram calculated from the topographic and deformed pairs can estimate the DDM.
Figure 1 illustrates the view of the experimental area denoted by a yellow square. Figure 1(A)
shows that ocean and mountainous areas are located respectively on the west and east area, and
the middle area contains most cities and towns. Figure 1(B) reveals an example of ERS-2 image.
2.2 Determined DDM

Figure 2 Differential interferogram

Figure 3 DDM

Figure 2 illustrates the differential interferogram. Evidently, there isnt any differential
interferometric stripes in the ocean and the mountainous areas since the coherence is very low
there. Oppositely, the differential interferometric stripes are located almost in the areas of cities
and towns. Some parts of the differential interferometric stripes are broken due to two main
reasons: 1) the coherence had deteriorated due to 921 earthquake, 2) The temporal baseline of
deformed pair is 175 days. In figure 2, one color cycle from blue to red (from to ) indicated
a relative deformation of +2.828 cm along the slant range direction, where wavelength / 2 = 5.656
cm/2 = 2.828 cm. Based on the algorithm of D-InSAR (Zebker et al., 1994), the direction of the
deformation is toward the satellite if the differential interferometric phase decreases, and
backward the satellite if the one increases.
The DDM defined upon the WGS84 coordinate system is shown in Figure 3. The positive and
negative values indicate respectively that the direction of the deformation descends and ascends.
73% of pixels cover the land area. They have the displacements with the minimum -2.37 m , the
maximum 0.47 m , the median -0.74 m , and the mean -0.72 m . The root mean square value of
the displacements on all pixels is 0.46 m .
3. Subsidence Estimated by PS-InSAR

The experimental area is the same as shown in Figure 1. The 9 ERS-2 images shown in Table 2 are
adopted to implement the PS-InSAR computation. The SAR image of 1999/5/6 is used as the
master image. The others are slave images and calculated interferograms with the master image.
The perpendicular baselines and temporal baselines are listed in Table 2. Test results demonstrate
that permanent scatterers can still be extracted, and displacements can be estimated from these
permanent scatterers even if a sudden ground change like earthquake had occurred. The coherence
will deteriorate when the temporal interval overstrides the occurring time of the earthquake.
Moreover, all topography phases are subtracted from the corresponding interferograms to give the
differential interferograms.
Table 2 Available SAR images

Perpendicular Baseline (m) Temporal Interval (Days)


























3.1 The General Method for Selecting PS-candidates

In general, all coherence images are utilized to select candidates of permanent scatterers(Mora et
al., 2003). Only those targets whose coherences from all interferograms exceed a selected
coherence threshold can be regarded as candidates of permanent scatterers, abbreviated as
PS-candidates. The coherence indicates the quality of targets phase, which is not dependent on
the number of SAR images available. However, the multi-looking process done before calculating
will worsen the SAR image resolution, which causes the loss of isolated scatterers available to
be detected by the amplitude dispersion index presented by Ferretti et al. (2001). Note that some
of those PS-candidates will be rejected in the following processing steps of PS-InSAR. Mora et al.
(2003) used the coherence threshold 0.25 to select PS-candidates in Catalonia which is a
prosperous urban area. In our case, selecting the coherence threshold 0.17 is reasonable for an
area with extensive cover of vegetation which reduces the coherence value. When the coherence
threshold is set to 0.17, no PS-candidates can be selected. This result is illustrated in figure 4 (A).

Figure 4 Distribution of the PS-candidates extracted
by (A) the general method and (B) the improved method
3.2 The Improved Method for Selecting PS-candidates
An innovative method for selecting PS-candidates is proposed in this paper. Considering those
unfavorable conditions such as large area, extensive cover of vegetation and occurred 921
earthquake, only those coherence images with shorter perpendicular baseline, like the five ones
shown with blue characters in Table 2, are used to select PS-candidates. Furthermore, a model
coherence threshold 0.7 given by Mora et al. (2003) can be adopted to extract permanent
scatterers from PS-candidates. Finally, 925 PS-candidates can be extracted with the same
coherence threshold 0.17 as the one used in figure 4 (A). Figure 4(B) illustrates the spatial
distribution of these 925 PS-candidates extracted by this improved method. Finally, 771 PS are
selected from 925 PS-candidates by using the model coherence threshold 0.7.
3.3 Vertical Displacements
Unwrapping permanent scatterers can estimate the corresponding successive displacements of
771 PS as shown in Figure 5. The positive and negative values indicate respectively that the
direction of the deformation descends and ascends. The mean value of subsidence speed is -0.12
m/year. Test results show that the improved method can extract PS-candidates and estimate the
successive displacement model in central Taiwan successfully. Also, further study on PS-InSAR
and its application techniques need to be done.
4. Conclusions and Future Works
The DDM caused by the 921 earthquake occurred in central Taiwan is successfully determined by

D-InSAR. To expand applications of interferometry, PS-InSAR is adopted to estimate the

displacements in central Taiwan using the nine SAR images taken from 1999/1/21 to 1999/12/2.
Even under the unfavorable conditions, permanent scatterers can still be extracted, and successive
vertical displacements can be successfully estimated by the improved method proposed in this
paper. In the future, some technical analysis will be further done to test and demonstrate the
applicability of this improved method for selecting PS-candidates for PS-InSAR. Moreover, one
modified techniques will and can be applied to obtain a better result. SAR images with higher
resolution can be applied in PS-InSAR to extract those permanent scatterers which cannot be
extracted by the general method.

Figure 5 Successive vertical displacements on permanent scatterers

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