Mangroves, as unique coastal wetlands with numerous benefits, are endangered mainly due to the coupled effects of anthropogenic activities and climate change. Therefore, acquiring reliable and up-to-date information about these ecosystems is vital for their conservation and sustainable blue carbon development. In this regard, the joint use of remote sensing data and machine learning algorithms can assist in producing accurate mangrove ecosystem maps. This study investigated the potential of artificial neural networks (ANNs) with different topologies and specifications for mangrove classification in Iran. To this end, multi-temporal synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and multi-spectral remote sensing data from Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 were processed in the Google Earth Engine (GEE) cloud computing platform. Afterward, the ANN topologies and specifications considering the number of layers and neurons, learning algorithm, type of activation function, and learning rate were examined for mangrove ecosystem mapping. The results indicated that an ANN model with four hidden layers, 36 neurons in each layer, adaptive moment estimation (Adam) learning algorithm, rectified linear unit (Relu) activation function, and the learning rate of 0.001 produced the most accurate mangrove ecosystem map (F-score = 0.97). Further analysis revealed that although ANN models were subjected to accuracy decline when a limited number of training samples were used, they still resulted in satisfactory results. Additionally, it was observed that ANN models had a high resistance when training samples included wrong labels, and only the ANN model with the Adam learning algorithm produced an accurate mangrove ecosystem map when no data standardization was performed. Moreover, further investigations showed the higher potential of multi-temporal and multi-source remote sensing data compared to single-source and mono-temporal (e.g., single season) for accurate mangrove ecosystem mapping. Overall, the high potential of the proposed method, along with utilizing open-access satellite images and big-geo data processing platforms (i.e., GEE, Google Colab, and scikit-learn), made the proposed approach efficient and applicable over other study areas for all interested users.
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