Professional Course

Synthetic Aperture Radar: Ecosystems

edX, Online
4 weeks
4 weeks
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Course description

Synthetic Aperture Radar: Ecosystems

Remote sensing observations have become an essential tool in observing the state and evolution of the earth’s ecosystems. They are a unique means to gain an immediate and regional- to continental-scale view of the earth environment, allowing for the monitoring of entire biomes and their changes with time.

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 learn how the weather-independence of SAR combined with its ability to penetrate into vegetation canopies make SAR an excellent information source to characterize vegetation structure, measure above-ground biomass, and analyze the change of vegetation long term and throughout the seasons. Each SAR ecosystem application will be illustrated with relevant data sets and hands-on exercises. Specific topics include:

  • The concepts and principles of SAR and polarimetric SAR
  • How to access and visualize SAR data
  • Interpretation of SAR images at different wavelengths and polarizations in the context of ecosystems monitoring
  • The use of SAR in monitoring forest degradation
  • Techniques for estimating forest biomass from SAR
  • The application of SAR to the monitoring of agriculture extent

Who should attend?


  • General proficiency in GIS
  • For verified track: Basic knowledge in Python programming
  • ARSET Level-0 Training “Fundamentals of Remote Sensing” or equivalent
  • ARSET Level-1 Training “Introduction to Synthetic Aperture Radar” or equivalent

Training content

  • Contribution of SAR to Monitoring forests
  • SAR for Agriculture Monitoring
  • Forest Degradation / Deforestation using SAR remote sensing
  • Biomass estimation using SAR

Course delivery details

This course is offered through University of Alaska Fairbanks, a partner institute of EdX.

4-6 hours per week


  • Verified Track -$179
  • Audit Track - Free

Certification / Credits

What you'll learn

Participants in this course will develop the following skills:

  • Intuitive understanding of SAR images and polarimetric SAR
  • Understanding the role of wavelength and signal polarization when applying SAR to the monitoring of ecosystems
  • Use SAR data to map and monitor agriculture extent
  • Apply SAR to map and assess forest degradation activities
  • Techniques to measure above-ground forest biomass from spaceborne SAR observations.

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