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Open AccessArticle

Urban Landscape Change Analysis Using Local Climate Zones and Object-Based Classification in the Salt Lake Metro Region, Utah, USA

Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, University of California at Berkeley, 202 Wurster Hall #2000, Berkeley, CA 94720-2000, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(13), 1615;
Received: 29 April 2019 / Revised: 26 June 2019 / Accepted: 3 July 2019 / Published: 8 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Urban Remote Sensing)
PDF [8701 KB, uploaded 10 July 2019]


Urban areas globally are vulnerable to warming climate trends exacerbated by their growing populations and heat island effects. The Local Climate Zone (LCZ) typology has become a popular framework for characterizing urban microclimates in different regions using various classification methods, including a widely adopted pixel-based protocol by the World Urban Database and Access Portal Tools (WUDAPT) Project. However, few studies to date have explored the potential of object-based image analysis (OBIA) to facilitate classification of LCZs given their inherent complexity, and few studies have further used the LCZ framework to analyze land cover changes in urban areas over time. This study classified LCZs in the Salt Lake Metro Region, Utah, USA for 1993 and 2017 using a supervised object-based analysis of Landsat satellite imagery and assessed their change during this time frame. The overall accuracy, measured for the most recent classification period (2017), was equal to 64% across 12 LCZs, with most of the error resulting from similarities among highly developed LCZs and non-developed classes with sparse or low-stature vegetation. The observed 1993–2017 changes in LCZs indicated a regional tendency towards primarily suburban, open low-rise development, and large low-rise and paved classes. However, despite the potential for local cooling with landscape transitions likely to increase vegetation cover and irrigation compared to pre-development conditions, summer averages of Landsat-derived top-of-atmosphere brightness temperatures showed a pronounced warming between 1992–1994 and 2016–2018 across the study region, with a 0.1–2.9 °C increase among individual LCZs. Our results indicate that future applications of LCZs towards urban change analyses should develop a stronger understanding of LCZ microclimate sensitivity to changes in size and configuration of urban neighborhoods and regions. Furthermore, while OBIA is promising for capturing the heterogeneous and multi-scale nature of LCZs, its applications could be strengthened by adopting more generalizable approaches for LCZ-relevant segmentation and validation, and by incorporating active remote sensing data to account for the 3D complexity of urban areas. View Full-Text
Keywords: local climate zones; supervised classification; OBIA; urbanization; change detection local climate zones; supervised classification; OBIA; urbanization; change detection

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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 (CC BY 4.0).

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Collins, J.; Dronova, I. Urban Landscape Change Analysis Using Local Climate Zones and Object-Based Classification in the Salt Lake Metro Region, Utah, USA. Remote Sens. 2019, 11, 1615.

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