• Length:
    6 Weeks
  • Effort:
    4–6 hours per week
  • Price:

    Add a Verified Certificate for $199 USD

  • Institution
  • Subject:
  • Level:
  • Language:
  • Video Transcripts:
    English, Español
  • Course Type:
    Self-paced on your time


About this course

Skip About this course

Remote sensing observations from airborne and spaceborne platforms have become an essential tool in disaster management. They provide an immediate and large-area overview of evolving disaster situations, revealing important hazard information to disaster response personnel.

This course will introduce you to Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), a remote sensing technology that can see the ground even during darkness and through rain, clouds, or smoke. As a participant in this course, you will gain an intuitive understanding of the information contained in SAR observations and learn to use a range of analysis techniques to apply SAR data to disaster mapping and management. Specific topics will include:

  • The mathematical and physical principles of SAR remote sensing
  • How to access and visualize SAR data
  • Interpretation of SAR images in the context of disaster monitoring
  • Interferometric SAR (InSAR) concepts
  • Flood mapping and SAR change detection for hazard analysis

The learned concepts will be put into action in simulated disaster response exercises, in which class participants will analyze SAR data sets to create hazard information for several real-life disaster events from the recent past.

Learners who select the verified track will have access to online computational labs using Jupyter notebooks that will allow deeper exploration and practice.

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn

Participants in this course will develop the following skills:

  • Intuitive understanding of SAR image and phase information
  • Understanding the properties of different SAR sensor types
  • Ability to pick the optimal sensor for your application
  • Creation RGB color visualizations from images acquired at different times or in different polarizations
  • Use of SAR images to map flooding, deforestation, and landslides
  • Use of interferometric SAR techniques to measure cm-scale surface deformation related to earthquakes and volcanic activity

Week 1: Concepts of SAR and How SAR Sees the World

  • Introduction to the main mathematical and physical concepts of SAR
  • Explore SAR signatures of various natural environments such as forests, agriculture, and urban environments.
  • Lab sessions will provide hands-on experience with visualizing and interpreting SAR images.

Week 2: Information Content of Multi-Temporal and Multi-Polarization SAR Images

Modern SAR sensors observe every location on the globe on nearly a weekly basis, providing a deep multi-temporal and cloud-free dataset that is ideal for monitoring changes of the environment. In week 2, participants will

  • Learn how to create multi-temporal SAR image time series
  • Learn how to use time series to monitor environmental signatures such as deforestation, freeze/thaw cycles, inundation events, and wildfires.

Week 3: Change Detection for Disaster Monitoring

SAR sensors are highly stable imaging systems that are ideal for the identification of changes on the earth surface. Week 3 will introduce participants to a range of techniques to identify changes from muti-temporal SAR images. These techniques will be applied to map disaster events such as wildfires, flooding, and landslides.

Week 4: Interferometric SAR, a Technique to Measure cm-Scale Surface Deformation from Space

Week 4 will introduce the concepts and applications of Interferometric SAR (InSAR) processing. InSAR uses the phase signal captured in SAR data to track subtle surface movements such as those related to seismic events and volcanic activity. Theoretical concepts will be put into practice in data exercises calculating surface motion associated with recent volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.

Week 5: InSAR Time Series Analysis for Monitoring Volcanic Unrest, Landslides, and Similar Dynamic Surface Phenomena

  • InSAR Time-Series Analysis, a set of techniques that analyze not only one but many SAR interferograms with the goal to monitor ongoing surface deformation events at the mm to cm accuracy.
  • Apply techniques to monitor volcanic unrest in locations such as Hawaii and the Galapagos Islands.

Week 6: Future Sensors, Where to Find Data, and Available Processing Platforms

  • Summarize the most relevant current and upcoming SAR sensors.
  • Learn where to find SAR images over their area of interest and will be
  • Introduction to existing and upcoming SAR data analysis platforms.
  • An overall summary of course content.

Meet your instructors

Franz Meyer
University of Alaska Fairbanks

Pursue a Verified Certificate to highlight the knowledge and skills you gain
$199 USD

View a PDF of a sample edX certificate
  • Official and Verified

    Receive an instructor-signed certificate with the institution's logo to verify your achievement and increase your job prospects

  • Easily Shareable

    Add the certificate to your CV or resume, or post it directly on LinkedIn

  • Proven Motivator

    Give yourself an additional incentive to complete the course

  • Support our Mission

    EdX, a non-profit, relies on verified certificates to help fund free education for everyone globally

Who can take this course?

Unfortunately, learners from one or more of the following countries or regions will not be able to register for this course: Iran, Cuba and the Crimea region of Ukraine. While edX has sought licenses from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to offer our courses to learners in these countries and regions, the licenses we have received are not broad enough to allow us to offer this course in all locations. EdX truly regrets that U.S. sanctions prevent us from offering all of our courses to everyone, no matter where they live.