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Journal of Sensors
Volume 2015, Article ID 245790, 11 pages
Research Article

Detecting the Depth of a Subsurface Brine Layer in Lop Nur Lake Basin Using Polarimetric L-Band SAR

1Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Datun Road, Beijing 100101, China
2University of Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing 100049, China
3China University of Geosciences Beijing 100083, China

Received 28 October 2014; Revised 15 January 2015; Accepted 5 February 2015

Academic Editor: Yoshio Yamaguchi

Copyright © 2015 Chang-An Liu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Lop Nur once was a huge lake located in northwestern China. At present, there is no surface water in Lop Nur Lake basin and on SAR images it looks like an “Ear.” The objective of this paper is to retrieve the depth of subsurface brine layer in Lop Nur by copolarized phase difference of surface scattering. Based on field investigation and analysis of sample properties, a two-layer scattering structure was proposed with detailed explanations of scattering mechanisms. The relationship between copolarized phase difference and the brine layer depth in the region of Lop Nur were studied. The copolarized phase difference of surface scattering was extracted by model-based polarimetric decomposition method. A good linear correlation between measured subsurface brine layer depth and copolarized phase difference with R2 reaching 0.82 was found. Furthermore, the subsurface brine layer depth of the entire lake area was analyzed. According to the retrieved maps, some interesting phenomena were found, and several hypotheses about the past water withdrawal process and the environmental evolution had been proposed to theoretically explain these phenomena. Based on the penetration capability of SAR the reconstruction of historical evolution process of Lop Nur will be an interesting topic for future research.