NL-SAR Framework for Preserving (Pol)(In)SAR Denoising
Speckle noise is an inherent problem in coherent imaging systems such as synthetic aperture radar. It creates strong intensity fluctuations and hampers the analysis of images and the estimation of local radiometric, polarimetric, or interferometric properties. Synthetic aperture radar (SAR)processing chains thus often include a multilooking (i.e., averaging) filter for speckle reduction, at the expense of a strong resolution loss. Preservation of point-like and fine structures and textures requires to adapt locally the estimation. Nonlocal (NL)-means successfully adapt smoothing by deriving data-driven weights from the similarity between small image patches. The generalization of nonlocal approaches offers a flexible framework for resolution-preserving speckle reduction.
We describe a general method, i.e., NL-SAR, that builds extended nonlocal neighborhoods for denoising amplitude, polarimetric, and/or interferometric SAR images. These neighborhoods are defined on the basis of pixel similarity as evaluated by multichannel comparison of patches. Several nonlocal estimations are performed, and the best one is locally selected to form a single restored image with good preservation of radar structures and discontinuities. The proposed method is fully automatic and handles single and multilook images, with or without interferometric or polarimetric channels. Efficient speckle reduction with very good resolution preservation is demonstrated both on numerical experiments using simulated data, airborne, and spaceborne radarimages. The source code of a parallel implementation of NL-SAR is released with this paper.
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