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L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar: Current and future applications to Earth sciences

Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) is a powerful tool for imaging Earth's surface as it works day and night and regardless of the presence of clouds. SAR images taken from L-band SAR satellites complement those taken from satellites at shorter wavelengths such as C-band and X-band – L-band images have less resolution than C- and X-band images, but are more coherent over time, especially in vegetated regions. L-band data is typically easier to unwrap (higher coherence and fewer fringes), but more susceptible to effects of the ionosphere.

L-band SAR satellites include JERS-1 (1992-1998), ALOS (2006-2011), ALOS-2 (2014-present), which have recurrence time of order a few weeks.  Such recurrence times do not allow monitoring with high temporal resolution. However, after the launch of ALOS-4, NISAR, Tandem-L, and SAOCOM in the next few years, we will be able to monitor Earth's surface every few days with L-band SAR. Therefore, now is a good time to review what we have learned from previous and ongoing L-band missions (space-based and airborne) and what we expect to learn from future missions.

Edited by  Yosuke Aoki, Masato Furuya, 
Francesco De Zan, Marie-Pierre Doin, 
Michael Eineder, Masato Ohki, Mark Simons, 
Tim Wright

  1. Interferograms pertaining to large earthquakes typically reveal the occurrence of elastic deformations caused by the earthquake along with several complex surface displacements. In this study, we identified di...

    Authors: Satoshi Fujiwara, Takayuki Nakano and Yu Morishita

    Citation: Earth, Planets and Space 2020 72:119

    Content type: Frontier letter

    Published on:

  2. The cloud-free, wide-swath, day-and-night observation capability of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) has an important role in rapid landslide monitoring to reduce economic and human losses. Although interferomet...

    Authors: Masato Ohki, Takahiro Abe, Takeo Tadono and Masanobu Shimada

    Citation: Earth, Planets and Space 2020 72:67

    Content type: Full paper

    Published on:

  3. Determining the fault parameters of an earthquake is fundamental for studying the earthquake physics, understanding the seismotectonics of the region, and forecasting future earthquake activities in the surrou...

    Authors: Nematollah Ghayournajarkar and Yo Fukushima

    Citation: Earth, Planets and Space 2020 72:64

    Content type: Full paper

    Published on:

  4. Asama volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in Japan. Spatially dense surface deformation at Asama volcano has rarely been documented because of its high topography and snow cover around the summit. This...

    Authors: Xiaowen Wang, Yosuke Aoki and Jie Chen

    Citation: Earth, Planets and Space 2019 71:121

    Content type: Full paper

    Published on:

  5. Active faults commonly repeat cycles of sudden rupture and subsequent silence of hundreds to tens of thousands of years, but some parts of mature faults exhibit continuous creep accompanied by many small earth...

    Authors: Yo Fukushima, Manabu Hashimoto, Masatoshi Miyazawa, Naoki Uchida and Taka’aki Taira

    Citation: Earth, Planets and Space 2019 71:118

    Content type: Full paper

    Published on:

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