Surface water bodies, such as rivers, lakes, and reservoirs, play an irreplaceable role in global ecosystems and climate systems. Sentinel-2 imagery provides new high-resolution satellite remote sensing data. Based on the analysis of the spectral characteristics of the Sentinel-2 satellite, a novel water index called the Sentinel-2 water index (SWI) that is based on the vegetation-sensitive red-edge band (Band 5) and shortwave infrared (Band 11) bands was developed. Four representative water body types, namely, Taihu Lake, Yangtze River, Chaka Salt Lake, and Chain Lake, were selected as study areas to conduct a water body extraction performance comparison with the normalized difference water index (NDWI). We found that (1) the contrast value of the SWI was larger than that of the NDWI in terms of various water body types, including purer water, turbid water, salt water, and floating ice, which suggested that the SWI could achieve better enhancement performance for water bodies. (2) An effective water body extraction method was proposed by integrating the SWI and Otsu algorithm, which could accurately extract various water body types with high overall accuracy. (3) The method effectively extracted large water bodies and wide river channels by suppressing shadow noise in urban areas. Our results suggested that the novel method can achieve efficient water body extraction for rapidly and accurately extracting various water bodies from Sentinel-2 data and the novel method has application potential for larger-scale surface water mapping.
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