Optical and SAR sensor synergies for forest and land cover mapping in a tropical site in West Africa

Optical and SAR sensor synergies for forest and land cover mapping in a tropical site in West Africa

The classification of tropical fragmented landscapes and moist forested areas is a challenge due to the presence of a continuum of vegetation successional stages, persistent cloud cover and the presence of small patches of different land cover types. To classify one such study area in West Africa we integrated the optical sensors Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) and the Advanced Visible and Near Infrared Radiometer type 2 (AVNIR-2) with the Phased Arrayed L-band SAR (PALSAR) sensor, the latter two on-board the Advanced Land Observation Satellite (ALOS), using traditional Maximum Likelihood (MLC) and Neural Networks (NN) classifiers. The impact of texture variables and the use of SAR to cope with optical data unavailability were also investigated. SAR and optical integrated data produced the best classification overall accuracies using both MLC and NN, respectively equal to 91.1% and 92.7% for TM and 95.6% and 97.5% for AVNIR-2. Texture information derived from optical images was critical, improving results between 10.1% and 13.2%. In our study area, PALSAR alone was able to provide valuable information over the entire area: when the three forest classes were aggregated, it achieved 75.7% (with MCL) and 78.1% (with NN) overall classification accuracies. The selected classification and processing methods resulted in fine and accurate vegetation mapping in a previously untested region, exploiting all available sensors synergies and highlighting the advantages of each dataset.

Vaglio Laurin, G., Liesenberg, V., Chen, Q., Guerriero, L., Del Frate, F., Bartolini, A., … Valentini, R. (2013). Optical and SAR sensor synergies for forest and land cover mapping in a tropical site in West Africa. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, 21, 7–16. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.JAG.2012.08.002

 

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