Digital Geography

What is the synthetic aperture in “Synthetic Aperture Radar” (SAR)?

Talking to a colleague recently about monitoring changes to the magrove forest of the Rufiji Delta in tanzania, he commented on the relative scarcity of satellite data over the region. It’s too cloudy. Some Landsat TM data exist: we found four images between 1989 and 2010 with less than 20% cloud over the northern delta. To observe the forest we will develop tools that use cloud penetrating synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data. SARs transmit microwaves at centimetre wavelengths (normally) that can penetrate cloud and can image the surface day or night. The intensity and polarisation of reflected or “backscattered” radar…