Remote Sens.2014, 6(9), 8287-8309; doi:10.3390/rs6098287 (registering DOI) - published 2 September 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This study aims at the detection of gully-affected areas by applying object-based image analysis in the region of Taroudannt, Morocco, which is highly affected by gully erosion while simultaneously representing a major region of agro-industry with a high demand of arable land. As high-resolution optical satellite data are readily available from various sensors and with a much better temporal resolution than 3D terrain data, an area-wide mapping approach to extract gully-affected areas using only optical satellite imagery was developed. The methodology additionally incorporates expert knowledge and freely-available vector data in a cyclic object-based image analysis approach. This connects the two fields of geomorphology and remote sensing. The classification results show the successful implementation of the developed approach and allow conclusions on the current distribution of gullies. The results of the classification were checked against manually delineated reference data incorporating expert knowledge based on several field campaigns in the area, resulting in an overall classification accuracy of 62%. The error of omission accounts for 38% and the error of commission for 16%, respectively. Additionally, a manual assessment was carried out to assess the quality of the applied classification algorithm. The limited error of omission contributes with 23% to the overall error of omission and the limited error of commission contributes with 98% to the overall error of commission. This assessment improves the results and confirms the high quality of the developed approach for area-wide mapping of gully-affected areas in larger regions. In the field of landform mapping, the overall quality of the classification results is often assessed with more than one method to incorporate all aspects adequately.
Remote Sens.2014, 6(9), 8261-8286; doi:10.3390/rs6098261 (registering DOI) - published 2 September 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The Banana Bunchy Top Virus (Genus: Babuvirus) reduces plant growth and prevents banana production. Because of the very large number of properties with banana plants in South East Queensland, Australia, a mapping approach was developed to delineate individual and clusters of banana plants to help plant identification and enable prioritization of plant inspections for Banana Bunchy Top Virus. Due to current outbreaks in South East Queensland, there are concerns that the virus may spread to the major banana growing districts further north. The mapping approach developed was based on very high spatial resolution airborne orthophotos. Object-based image analysis was used to: (1) detect banana plants using edge and line detection approaches; (2) produce accurate and realistic outlines around classified banana plants; and (3) evaluate the mapping results. The mapping approach was developed based on 10 image tiles of 1 km × 1 km and was applied to orthophotos (3600 image tiles) from September 2011 covering the entire Sunshine Coast Region in South East Queensland. Based on field inspections of the classified maps, a user’s mapping accuracy of 88% (n = 146) was achieved. The results will facilitate the detection of banana plants and increase the inspection rate of Banana Bunchy Top Virus in the future.
Remote Sens.2014, 6(9), 8238-8260; doi:10.3390/rs6098238 - published 29 August 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Time series of remotely sensed data are an important source of information for understanding land cover dynamics. In particular, the fraction of absorbed photosynthetic active radiation (fAPAR) is a key variable in the assessment of vegetation primary production over time. However, the fAPAR series derived from polar orbit satellites are not continuous and consistent in space and time. Filtering methods are thus required to fill in gaps and produce high-quality time series. This study proposes an adapted (iteratively reweighted) local regression filter (LOESS) and performs a benchmarking intercomparison with four popular and generally applicable smoothing methods: Double Logistic (DLOG), smoothing spline (SSP), Interpolation for Data Reconstruction (IDR) and adaptive Savitzky-Golay (ASG). This paper evaluates the main advantages and drawbacks of the considered techniques. The results have shown that ASG and the adapted LOESS perform better in recovering fAPAR time series over multiple controlled noisy scenarios. Both methods can robustly reconstruct the fAPAR trajectories, reducing the noise up to 80% in the worst simulation scenario, which might be attributed to the quality control (QC) MODIS information incorporated into these filtering algorithms, their flexibility and adaptation to the upper envelope. The adapted LOESS is particularly resistant to outliers. This method clearly outperforms the other considered methods to deal with the high presence of gaps and noise in satellite data records. The low RMSE and biases obtained with the LOESS method (|rMBE| < 8%; rRMSE < 20%) reveals an optimal reconstruction even in most extreme situations with long seasonal gaps. An example of application of the LOESS method to fill in invalid values in real MODIS images presenting persistent cloud and snow coverage is also shown. The LOESS approach is recommended in most remote sensing applications, such as gap-filling, cloud-replacement, and observing temporal dynamics in situ where rapid seasonal changes are produced.
Remote Sens.2014, 6(9), 8220-8237; doi:10.3390/rs6098220 - published 29 August 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Columns are one of the most usual supporting structures in a large number of cultural heritage buildings. However, it is difficult to obtain accurate information about their inner structure. Non-destructive testing (NDT) methodologies are usually applied, but results depend on the complexity of the column. Non-flat external surfaces and unknown and irregular internal materials complicate the interpretation of data. This work presents the study of one column by using ground-penetrating radar (GPR) combined with seismic tomography, under laboratory conditions, in order to obtain the maximum information about the structure. This column belongs to a “Modernista” building from Barcelona (Spain). These columns are built with irregular and fragmented clay bricks and mortar. The internal irregular and complex structure causes complicated 2D images, evidencing the existence of many different targets. However, 3D images provide valuable information about the presence and the state of an internal tube and show, in addition, that the column is made of uneven and broken bricks. GPR images present high correlation with seismic data and endoscopy observation carried out in situ. In conclusion, the final result of the study provides information and 3D images of damaged areas and inner structures. Comparing the different methods to the real structure of the column, the potential and limitations of GPR were evaluated.
Remote Sens.2014, 6(9), 8190-8219; doi:10.3390/rs6098190 - published 28 August 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In the framework of the European Space Agency Climate Change Initiative, a global, almost daily, soil moisture (SM) product is being developed from passive and active satellite microwave sensors, at a coarse spatial resolution. This study contributes to its validation by using finer spatial resolution ASAR Wide Swath and in situ soil moisture data taken over three sites in Ireland, from 2007 to 2009. This is the first time a comparison has been carried out between three sets of independent observations from different sensors at very different spatial resolutions for such a long time series. Furthermore, the SM spatial distribution has been investigated at the ASAR scale within each Essential Climate Variable (ECV) pixel, without adopting any particular model or using a densely distributed network of in situ stations. This approach facilitated an understanding of the extent to which geophysical factors, such as soil texture, terrain composition and altitude, affect the retrieved ECV SM product values in temperate grasslands. Temporal and spatial variability analysis provided high levels of correlation (p < 0.025) and low errors between the three datasets, leading to confidence in the new ECV SM global product, despite limitations in its ability to track the driest and wettest conditions.
Remote Sens.2014, 6(9), 8165-8189; doi:10.3390/rs6098165 - published 28 August 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: We present a new database of solar radiation at ground level for Eastern Europe and Africa, the Middle East and Asia, estimated using satellite images from the Meteosat East geostationary satellites. The method presented calculates global horizontal (G) and direct normal irradiance (DNI) at hourly intervals, using the full Meteosat archive from 1998 to present. Validation of the estimated global horizontal and direct normal irradiance values has been performed by comparison with high-quality ground station measurements. Due to the low number of ground measurements in the viewing area of the Meteosat Eastern satellites, the validation of the calculation method has been extended by a comparison of the estimated values derived from the same class of satellites but positioned at 0°E, where more ground stations are available. Results show a low overall mean bias deviation (MBD) of +1.63 Wm−2 or +0.73% for global horizontal irradiance. The mean absolute bias of the individual station MBD is 2.36%, while the root mean square deviation of the individual MBD values is 3.18%. For direct normal irradiance the corresponding values are overall MBD of +0.61 Wm−2 or +0.62%, while the mean absolute bias of the individual station MBD is 5.03% and the root mean square deviation of the individual MBD values is 6.30%. The resulting database of hourly solar radiation values will be made freely available. These data will also be integrated into the PVGIS web application to allow users to estimate the energy output of photovoltaic (PV) systems not only in Europe and Africa, but now also in Asia.