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Automated Detection of Cloud and Cloud Shadow in Single-Date Landsat Imagery Using Neural Networks and Spatial Post-Processing

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee Knoxville, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA
Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN 37831, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2014, 6(6), 4907-4926;
Received: 22 February 2014 / Revised: 15 May 2014 / Accepted: 19 May 2014 / Published: 28 May 2014
PDF [3112 KB, uploaded 19 June 2014]


The use of Landsat data to answer ecological questions is greatly increased by the effective removal of cloud and cloud shadow from satellite images. We develop a novel algorithm to identify and classify clouds and cloud shadow, SPARCS: Spatial Procedures for Automated Removal of Cloud and Shadow. The method uses a neural network approach to determine cloud, cloud shadow, water, snow/ice and clear sky classification memberships of each pixel in a Landsat scene. It then applies a series of spatial procedures to resolve pixels with ambiguous membership by using information, such as the membership values of neighboring pixels and an estimate of cloud shadow locations from cloud and solar geometry. In a comparison with FMask, a high-quality cloud and cloud shadow classification algorithm currently available, SPARCS performs favorably, with substantially lower omission errors for cloud shadow (8.0% and 3.2%), only slightly higher omission errors for clouds (0.9% and 1.3%, respectively) and fewer errors of commission (2.6% and 0.3%). Additionally, SPARCS provides a measure of uncertainty in its classification that can be exploited by other algorithms that require clear sky pixels. To illustrate this, we present an application that constructs obstruction-free composites of images acquired on different dates in support of a method for vegetation change detection. View Full-Text
Keywords: cloud detection; Landsat; image analysis; neural networks cloud detection; Landsat; image analysis; neural networks
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Hughes, M.J.; Hayes, D.J. Automated Detection of Cloud and Cloud Shadow in Single-Date Landsat Imagery Using Neural Networks and Spatial Post-Processing. Remote Sens. 2014, 6, 4907-4926.

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