Automatic Color Detection-Based Method Applied to Sentinel-1 SAR Images for Snow Avalanche Debris Monitoring

Karas, Anna ; Karbou, Fatima ; Giffard-Roisin, Sophie ; Durand, Philippe ; Eckert, Nicolas

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<p align=justify>In this study, we develop a novel method to automatically detect areas of snow avalanche debris using a color space segmentation technique applied to synthetic aperture radar (SAR) image time series through January 2018 in the Swiss Alps. Debris avalanche zones are detected assuming that these areas are characterized by a significant and localized increase in SAR signal relative to the surrounding environment. We undertake a sensitivity study by calculating debris products by varying the D-M reference images (a stable reference image taken several weeks before the event). We examine the results according to the direction of the orbit, the characteristics of the terrain (slope, altitude, orientation), and also by evaluating the relevance of the detection with the help of an independent SPOT database by Hafner and Buhler [1] including 18 737 avalanche events. Small avalanches are not detected by SAR images, and depending on the orientation of the terrain some avalanches are not detected by either the ascending or the descending orbit. The detection results vary with the reference image; best detection results are obtained with some selected individual dates with almost 70% of verified avalanche events using the ascending orbit.</p>
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