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Radar interferometric phase errors induced by Faraday rotation
  • Simon Zwieback,
  • Franz Meyer
Simon Zwieback
University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Corresponding Author:szwieback@alaska.edu

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Franz Meyer
University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Ionospheric Faraday rotation distorts satellite radar observations of the Earth's surface. While its impact on radiometric observables is well understood, the errors in repeat-pass InSAR observations and hence in deformation analysis are largely unknown. Because Faraday rotation cannot rigorously be compensated for in non-quad-pol systems, it is imperative to determine the magnitude and nature of the deformation errors. Focusing on distributed targets at L-band, we assess the errors for a range of land covers using airborne observations with simulated Faraday rotation. We find that the deformation error may reach 2 mm in the co-pol channels over a solar cycle. It can exceed 5 mm for intense solar maxima. The cross-pol channel is more susceptible to severe errors. We identify the leakage of polarimetric phase contributions into the interferometric phase as a dominant error source. The polarimetric scattering characteristics induce a systematic dependence of the Faraday-induced deformation errors on land cover and topography. Also their temporal characteristics, with pronounced seasonal and quasi-decadal variability, predispose these systematic errors to be misinterpreted as deformation. While the relatively small magnitude of 1-2 mm is of limited concern in many applications, the persistence on semi- to multi-annual time scales compels attention when long-term deformation is to be estimated with millimetric accuracy. Phase errors induced by uncompensated Faraday rotation constitute a non-negligible source of bias in interferometric deformation measurements.
2022Published in IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing volume 60 on pages 1-11. 10.1109/TGRS.2021.3094996