Segmentation of RADARSAT-2 Dual-Polarization Sea Ice Imagery
The mapping of sea ice is an important task for understanding global climate and for safe shipping. Currently, sea ice maps are created by human analysts with the help of remote sensing imagery, including synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery. While the maps are generally correct, they can be somewhat subjective and do not have pixel-level resolution due to the time consuming nature of manual segmentation. Therefore, automated sea ice mapping algorithms such as the multivariate iterative region growing with semantics (MIRGS) sea ice image segmentation algorithm are needed. MIRGS was designed to work with one-channel single-polarization SAR imagery from the RADARSAT-1 satellite. The launch of RADARSAT-2 has made available two-channel dual-polarization SAR imagery for the purposes of sea ice mapping. Dual-polarization imagery provides more information for distinguishing ice types, and one of the channels is less sensitive to changes in the backscatter caused by the SAR incidence angle parameter. In the past, this change in backscatter due to the incidence angle was a key limitation that prevented automatic segmentation of full SAR scenes. This thesis investigates techniques to make use of the dual-polarization data in MIRGS. An evaluation of MIRGS with RADARSAT-2 data was performed and showed that some detail was lost and that the incidence angle caused errors in segmentation. Several data fusion schemes were investigated to determine if they can improve performance. Gradient generation methods designed to take advantage of dual-polarization data, feature space fusion using linear and non-linear transforms as well as image fusion methods based on wavelet combination rules were implemented and tested. Tuning of the MIRGS parameters was performed to find the best set of parameters for segmentation of dual-polarization data. Results show that the standard MIRGS algorithm with default parameters provides the highest accuracy, so no changes are necessary for dual-polarization data. A hierarchical segmentation scheme that segments the dual-polarization channels separately was implemented to overcome the incidence angle errors. The technique is effective but requires more user input than the standard MIRGS algorithm.