The Landsat series of satellites provide a nearly continuous, high resolution data record of the Earth surface from the early 1970s through to the present. The public release of the entire Landsat archive, free of charge, along with modern computing capacity, has enabled Earth monitoring at the global scale with high spatial resolution. With the large data volume and seasonality varying across the globe, image selection is a particularly important challenge for regional and global multitemporal studies to remove the interference of seasonality from long term trends. This paper presents an automated method for selecting images for global scale lake mapping to minimize the influence of seasonality, while maintaining long term trends in lake surface area dynamics. Using historical meteorological data and a simple water balance model, we define the most stable period after the rainy season, when inflows equal outflows, independently for each Landsat tile and select images acquired during that ideal period for lake surface area mapping. The images selected using this method provide nearly complete global area coverage at decadal episodes for circa 2000 and circa 2014 from Landsat Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) and Operational Land Imager (OLI) sensors, respectively. This method is being used in regional and global lake dynamics mapping projects, and is potentially applicable to any regional/global scale remote sensing application.
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