Ship Wake Detection in SAR Images via Sparse Regularization

Oktay Karakus, Igor G Rizaev, Alin M Achim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)
135 Downloads (Pure)


In order to analyze synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images of the sea surface, ship wake detection is essential for extracting information on the wake generating vessels. One possibility is to assume a linear model for wakes, in which case detection approaches are based on transforms such as Radon and Hough. These express the bright (dark) lines as peak (trough) points in the transform domain. In this article, ship wake detection is posed as an inverse problem, which the associated cost function including a sparsity enforcing penalty, i.e., the generalized minimax concave (GMC) function. Despite being a nonconvex regularizer, the GMC penalty enforces the overall cost function to be convex. The proposed solution is based on a Bayesian formulation, whereby the point estimates are recovered using a maximum a posteriori (MAP) estimation. To quantify the performance of the proposed method, various types of SAR images are used, corresponding to TerraSAR-X, COSMO-SkyMed, Sentinel-1, and Advanced Land Observing Satellite 2 (ALOS2). The performance of various priors in solving the proposed inverse problem is first studied by investigating the GMC along with the L₁, Lₚ, nuclear, and total variation (TV) norms. We show that the GMC achieves the best results and we subsequently study the merits of the corresponding method in comparison to two state-of-the-art approaches for ship wake detection. The results show that our proposed technique offers the best performance by achieving 80% success rate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1665 - 1677
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 5 Nov 2019


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