The advent of interferometric synthetic aperature radar for geophysical studies has resulted in the need for accurate, efficient methods of two-dimensional phase unwrapping. Inference of the lost integral number of cycles in phase measurements is critical for three-pass surface deformation studies as well as topographic mapping and can result in an order of magnitude increase in sensitivity for two-pass deformation analysis. While phase unwrapping algorithms have proliferated over the past ten years, two main approaches are currently in use. Each is most useful only for certain restricted applications. All these algorithms begin with the measured gradient of the phase field, which is subsequently integrated to recover the unwrapped phases. The earliest approaches in interferometric applications incorporated residue identification and cuts to limit the possible integration paths, while a second class using least-squares techniques was developed in the early 1990’s. We compare the approaches and find that the residue-cut algorithms are quite accurate but do not produce estimates in regions of moderate phase noise. The least-squares methods yield complete coverage but at the cost of distortion in the recovered phase field. A new synthesis approach, combining the cuts from the first class with a least-squares solution, offers greater spatial coverage with less distortion in many instances.
© 1998 Optical Society of America
Original Manuscript: May 5, 1997
Revised Manuscript: October 9, 1997
Manuscript Accepted: September 18, 1997
Published: March 1, 1998
Howard A. Zebker and Yanping Lu, "Phase unwrapping algorithms for radar interferometry: residue-cut, least-squares, and synthesis algorithms," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 15, 586-598 (1998)