Synthetic aperture radar interferometry

Richard Bamler, Philipp Hartl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1796 Scopus citations


Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) is a coherent active microwave imaging method. In remote sensing it is used for mapping the scattering properties of the Earth's surface in the respective wavelength domain. Many physical and geometric parameters of the imaged scene contribute to the grey value of a SAR image pixel. Scene inversion suffers from this high ambiguity and requires SAR data taken at different wavelength, polarization, time, incidence angle, etc. Interferometric SAR (InSAR) exploits the phase differences of at least two complex-valued SAR images acquired from different orbit positions and/or at different times. The information derived from these interferometric data sets can be used to measure several geophysical quantities, such as topography, deformations (volcanoes, earthquakes, ice fields), glacier flows, ocean currents, vegetation properties, etc. This paper reviews the technology and the signal theoretical aspects of InSAR. Emphasis is given to mathematical imaging models and the statistical properties of the involved quantities. Coherence is shown to be a useful concept for system description and for interferogram quality assessment. As a key step in InSAR signal processing two-dimensional phase unwrapping is discussed in detail. Several interferometric configurations are described and illustrated by real-world examples. A compilation of past, current and future InSAR systems concludes the paper.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)r1-r54
JournalInverse Problems
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


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