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Mapping VHR Water Depth, Seabed and Land Cover Using Google Earth Data

Department of Mechanical and Environmental Informatics, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Ookayama 2-12-1-W8-13, Meguro-ku, Tokyo, 152-8552, Japan
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2014, 3(4), 1157-1179;
Received: 25 July 2014 / Revised: 14 October 2014 / Accepted: 15 October 2014 / Published: 23 October 2014
PDF [12225 KB, uploaded 23 October 2014]


Google Earth (GE) provides very high resolution (VHR) natural-colored (red-green-blue, RGB) images based on commercial spaceborne sensors over worldwide coastal areas. GE is rarely used as a direct data source to address coastal issues despite the tremendous potential of data transferability. This paper describes an inexpensive and easy-to-implement methodology to construct a GE natural-colored dataset with a submeter pixel size over 44 km2 to accurately map the water depth, seabed and land cover along a seamless coastal area in subtropical Japan (Shiraho, Ishigaki Island). The valuation of the GE images for the three mapping types was quantified by comparison with directly-purchased images. We found that both RGB GE-derived mosaic and pansharpened QuickBird (QB) imagery yielded satisfactory results for mapping water depth (R2GE = 0.71 and R2QB = 0.69), seabed cover (OAGE = 89.70% and OAQB = 80.40%, n = 15 classes) and land cover (OAGE = 95.32% and OAQB = 88.71%, n = 11 classes); however, the GE dataset significantly outperformed the QB dataset for all three mappings (ZWater depth = 6.29, ZSeabed = 4.10, ZLand = 3.28, αtwo-tailed < 0.002). The integration of freely available elevation data into both RGB datasets significantly improved the land cover classification accuracy (OAGE = 99.17% and OAQB = 97.80%). Implications and limitations of our findings provide insights for the use of GE VHR data by stakeholders tasked with integrated coastal zone management. View Full-Text
Keywords: coastal mapping; bathymetry; Google Earth; QuickBird; very high resolution; visible coastal mapping; bathymetry; Google Earth; QuickBird; very high resolution; visible

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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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Collin, A.; Nadaoka, K.; Nakamura, T. Mapping VHR Water Depth, Seabed and Land Cover Using Google Earth Data. ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2014, 3, 1157-1179.

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