InSAR data for monitoring land subsidence: time to think big
Abstract. Satellite interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) data have proven effective and valuable in the analysis of urban subsidence phenomena based on multi-temporal radar images. Results obtained by processing data acquired by different radar sensors, have shown the potential of InSAR and highlighted the key points for an operational use of this technology, namely: (1) regular acquisition over large areas of interferometric data stacks; (2) use of advanced processing algorithms, capable of estimating and removing atmospheric disturbances; (3) access to significant processing power for a regular update of the information over large areas. In this paper, we show how the operational potential of InSAR has been realized thanks to the recent advances in InSAR processing algorithms, the advent of cloud computing and the launch of new satellite platforms, specifically designed for InSAR analyses (e.g. Sentinel-1a operated by the ESA and ALOS2 operated by JAXA). The processing of thousands of SAR scenes to cover an entire nation has been performed successfully in Italy in a project financed by the Italian Ministry of the Environment. The challenge for the future is to pass from the historical analysis of SAR scenes already acquired in digital archives to a near real-time monitoring program where up to date deformation data are routinely provided to final users and decision makers.