TRB Webinar: Using Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar for Network-Wide Transportation Infrastructure Monitoring [Description and registration]

RB will conduct a webinar on Monday, November 7, 2016 from 2:00PM to 3:30PM ET that provides an overview of satellite-based interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) technology with a particular focus on transportation infrastructure applications. This webinar will discuss the underlying concepts of satellite radar remote sensing. The presenters will provide examples of using InSAR to monitor roads, bridges, slopes, and sinkholes and a summary of currently available radar systems.
This webinar was organized by the TRB Standing Committee on Geotechnical Instrumentation and Modeling. Participants must register in advance of the webinar, and there is a fee for non-TRB Sponsor or non-TRB Sustaining Affiliate employees. A certificate for 1.5 Professional Development Hours (PDHs) will be provided to attendees who register and attend the webinar as an individual.


  1. Theoretical aspects of Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) technology
  2. Practical examples of InSAR monitoring
  3. InSAR-based geotechnical asset monitoring
  4. Application of net present benefit analysis to InSAR monitoring
  5. Current state of practice - links to data and further reading material
  6. Question and answer

TRB2016 Workshop [Workshop site]

F. Mayer, A. Bohane, T. Oommen, A. Moruza, "InSAR: A Promising New Tool for Network Wide Transportation Infrastructure Monitoring," Workshop 879, Transportation Research Board - 94th Annual Meeting, Washington, DC, January 10-14, 2016
Satellite-based synthetic aperture radar (SAR) has become a rapidly developing remote sensing technique in the last two decades. It is commonly used for monitoring the earth surface. The main advantage of SAR is to allow the gathering of high resolution data despite the satellite relatively small antenna. Typically, SAR antenna transmits radar pulses very rapidly as the satellite passes along its trajectory. After backscattering from the ground, the amplitude and the phase of the received echo are used to generate synthesized image by taking advantage of the Doppler history recorded by onboard instrumentation. By exploiting the phase information contained within SAR imagery, interferometric SAR (InSAR) can provide very precise measurements of the topography of the observed scene and, through repeated observations, of the occurred changes in elevation. The key to InSAR analysis is phase angle data processing, allowing measurement precision on the order of millimeters. What makes this approach particularly attractive to implement is that typically measurements do not require any ground-based devices and rely on the natural scattering of radar signals off various site features. Practical applications include detection of seismic-induced displacements, landslide monitoring, sinkhole detection, and structure displacement monitoring. InSAR technology has the potential for network-wide assessment of transportation infrastructure.
This workshop will provide an overview of InSAR remote sensing technology with a particular focus on transportation applications. The underlying theoretical concepts of satellite-based radar imaging will be explained. Basic aspects of InSAR data processing, including the interpretation of InSAR results, will be introduced. Data collected from ongoing and recently completed studies will be used to demonstrate the benefits of InSAR technology. Practical examples of monitoring roads, bridges, slopes, and sinkholes will be provided. The workshop will end with a summary of currently available radar systems suitable for infrastructure monitoring and with a listing of InSAR service providers and software packages for data processing.

The workshop will be organized as follows:
PART 1: Theoretical aspects of InSAR technology and its applications to transportation infrastructure monitoring.
Presenter: Dr. Franz Meyer, Associate Professor, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks.
PART 2: Practical examples of InSAR monitoring at the Virginia Department of Transportation.
Presenter: Adrian Bohane, CEO, TRE Canada Inc.
PART 3: InSAR based geotechnical asset monitoring along transportation corridor.
Presenter: Dr. Thomas Oommen, Assistant Professor, Michigan Technological University.
PART 4: Summary of currently available satellite systems, service providers and software packages.
Presenter: Dr. Franz Meyer, Associate Professor, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks.
PART 5: Application of benefit/cost analysis to InSAR monitoring.
Presenter: Audrey Moruza, Research Scientist, Virginia DOT.
PART 6: Workshop summary, links to data and further reading material.
Presenter: Dr. Franz Meyer, Associate Professor, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks.
PART 7: Question and answer session.

Developed material

Satellite based SAR

  • InSAR, PSinSAR and SqueeSAR - A brief introduction [.pdf]

ArcGIS Online

  • ArcGIS Online - Getting started [.pdf]

Literature Searches

  • Interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) technology and its applications - A literature search [.pdf]

Outside links

Although not developed as part of the projects, the following links provide information related to the underlying geophysics of the investigated geohazards as well as the technology used for the investigation.

Webinars and presentations

As part of the IEEE Alaska section geoscience and remote sensing society (AK-GRSS) luncheon lecture series "Remote Sensing of the Last Frontier", that focuses on communicating interesting developments in geoscience and remote sensing to the state of Alaska, Alessandro Ferretti (CEO of TRE) presented in June 2014 on the promises of modern interferometric SAR technologies for hazard monitoring and various industry branches:
  • Watch the presentation on Vimeo

A slideshow introducing potential applications of microwave (RADAR) remote sensing was developed by Franz Mayer and the Earth & Planetry remote sensing group at University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF).
  • Watch the presentation [wmv]

A 90min webminar titled Discover Simplified SAR Solutions at NASA ASF DAAC" was hosted by NASA on September 23, 2015. During this webinar, participants were introduced to the available SAR data sets at NASA's ASF DAAC. Furthermore, a variety of SAR data discovery and data access tips/tutorials were provided.
  • Watch the recording of the video on YouTube

ESA publications

The European Space Agency (ESA) provides access to a large database of publications related to remote sensing. Of particular interest for this project is the training material on Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR). The web page describing the documentation is available here while the following links provide direct access to the three part composing the training material:
  • Part A is for readers with a good knowledge of optical and microwave remote sensing, to acquaint them with interferometric SAR image processing and interpretation.
  • Part B provides a practical approach and the technical background for beginners with InSAR processing.
  • Part C contains a more mathematical approach, for a deeper understanding of the interferometric process. It includes themes such as super resolution and ERS/Envisat interferometry.

ESA advanced training courses

As part of the Scientific Exploitation of Operational Missions (SEOM) programme element, the European Space Agency (ESA) organises each year an advanced Land Training Course devoted to train the next generation of Earth Observation (EO) scientists to exploit data from ESA and operational EO Missions (e.g. Sentinels) for science and applications development.

The following links direct to the ESA websites hosting the content of those courses for both land remote sensing and radar polarimetry.

Land remote sensing

  • 1st ESA Advanced Training Course on Land remote Sensing (2007) [link]
  • 2nd ESA Advanced Training Course on Land remote Sensing (2009) [link]
  • 3rd ESA Advanced Training Course on Land remote Sensing (2011) [link]
  • 4th ESA Advanced Training Course on Land remote Sensing (2013) [link]
  • 5th ESA Advanced Training Course on Land remote Sensing (2014) [link]
  • 6th ESA Advanced Training Course on Land remote Sensing (2015) [link]

Radar polarimetry

  • 1st ESA Advanced Course on Radar Polarimetry (2011) [link]
  • 2nd ESA Advanced Course on Radar Polarimetry (2013) [link]
  • 3nd ESA Advanced Course on Radar Polarimetry (2015) [link]

Other education links

SAR-EDU is a joint education initiave for Radar Remote Sensing, conducted and coordinated by Friedrich-Schiller University Jena and the German Aerospace Center. The goal of SAR-EDU is to provide knowledge about the basics, methods and applications of Radar Remote Sensing to users and scientists.


  • PBS - NOVA - Sinkholes - Buried Alive (January 28, 2015) [link]
  • PBS - NOVA - Killer Landslides (November 19, 2014) [link]
Topic revision: r12 - 14 Oct 2016, AndreaVaccari
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