Remote Sens.2015, 7(3), 2543-2601; doi:10.3390/rs70302543 (registering DOI) - published 4 March 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Rapid socioeconomic development in earthquake-prone areas can cause rapid changes in seismic loss risks. These changes make it difficult to ensure that risk reduction strategies are realistic, practical and effective over time. To overcome this difficulty, ongoing changes in risk should be captured timely, definitively, and accurately and then specific and well-timed adjustments of the relevant strategies should be made. However, methods for rapidly characterizing such seismic disaster risks over a large area have not been sufficiently developed. By focusing on building loss risks, this paper presents the development of an integrated method that combines remote sensing data and local knowledge to resolve this problem. This method includes two key interdependent steps. (1) To extract the heights and footprint areas of a large number of buildings accurately and quickly from single high-resolution optical remote sensing images; (2) To estimate the floor areas, identify structural types, develop damage probability matrixes, and determine economic parameters for calculating monetary losses due to seismic damage to the buildings by reviewing building-relevant local knowledge based on these two parameters (i.e., the building heights and footprint areas). This method is demonstrated in the Tangshan area of China. Based on the integrated method, the total floor area of the residential and public office buildings in central Tangshan in 2009 was 3.99% lower than the corresponding area number obtained by a conventional earthquake loss estimation project. Our field-based verification indicated that the mean relative error of the method for estimating the floor areas of the assessed buildings was 2.99%. A simulation of the impacts of the 1976 Ms 7.8 Tangshan earthquake using this method indicated that the total damaged floor area of the residential and public office buildings and the associated direct monetary loses in the study area could have been 8.00 and 28.73 times greater, respectively, than in 1976 if this earthquake had recurred in 2009, which is a strong warning to the local people regarding the increasing challenges they may face.
Remote Sens.2015, 7(3), 2509-2542; doi:10.3390/rs70302509 - published 3 March 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In the megadiverse tropical mountain forest in the Andes of southern Ecuador, a global biodiversity hotspot, the use of fire to clear land for cattle ranching is leading to the invasion of an aggressive weed, the bracken fern, which is threatening diversity and the provisioning of ecosystem services. To find sustainable land use options adapted to the local situation, a profound knowledge of the long-term spatiotemporal patterns of land cover change and its drivers is necessary, but hitherto lacking. The complex topography and the high cloud frequency make the use of remote sensing in this area a challenge. To deal with these conditions, we pursued specific pre-processing steps before classifying five Landsat scenes from 1975 to 2001. Then, we quantified land cover changes and habitat fragmentation, and we investigated landscape changes in relation to key spatial elements (altitude, slope, and distance from roads). Good classification results were obtained with overall accuracies ranging from 94.5% to 98.5% and Kappa statistics between 0.75 and 0.98. Forest was strongly fragmented due to the rapid expansion of the arable frontier and the even more rapid invasion by bracken. Unexpectedly, more bracken-infested areas were converted to pastures than vice versa, a practice that could alleviate pressure on forests if promoted. Road proximity was the most important spatial element determining forest loss, while for bracken the altitudinal range conditioned the degree of invasion in deforested areas. The annual deforestation rate changed notably between periods: ~1.5% from 1975 to 1987, ~0.8% from 1987 to 2000, and finally a very high rate of ~7.5% between 2000 and 2001. We explained these inconstant rates through some specific interrelated local and national political and socioeconomic drivers, namely land use policies, credit and tenure incentives, demography, and in particular, a severe national economic and bank crisis.
Remote Sens.2015, 7(3), 2474-2508; doi:10.3390/rs70302474 - published 3 March 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This paper proposes an object-based segmentation/classification scheme for remotely sensed images, based on a novel variant of the recently proposed Genetic Sequential Image Segmentation (GeneSIS) algorithm. GeneSIS segments the image in an iterative manner, whereby at each iteration a single object is extracted via a genetic-based object extraction algorithm. Contrary to the previous pixel-based GeneSIS where the candidate objects to be extracted were evaluated through the fuzzy content of their included pixels, in the newly developed region-based GeneSIS algorithm, a watershed-driven fine segmentation map is initially obtained from the original image, which serves as the basis for the forthcoming GeneSIS segmentation. Furthermore, in order to enhance the spatial search capabilities, we introduce a more descriptive encoding scheme in the object extraction algorithm, where the structural search modules are represented by polygonal shapes. Our objectives in the new framework are posed as follows: enhance the flexibility of the algorithm in extracting more flexible object shapes, assure high level classification accuracies, and reduce the execution time of the segmentation, while at the same time preserving all the inherent attributes of the GeneSIS approach. Finally, exploiting the inherent attribute of GeneSIS to produce multiple segmentations, we also propose two segmentation fusion schemes that operate on the ensemble of segmentations generated by GeneSIS. Our approaches are tested on an urban and two agricultural images. The results show that region-based GeneSIS has considerably lower computational demands compared to the pixel-based one. Furthermore, the suggested methods achieve higher classification accuracies and good segmentation maps compared to a series of existing algorithms.
Remote Sens.2015, 7(3), 2471-2473; doi:10.3390/rs70302471 - published 2 March 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: I wonder if James Clerk Maxwell, Scottish mathematical physicist and father of the classical theory of electromagnetic radiation, could have imagined being included on the cover of a book dealing with a sensing technology used to locate the position of buried pipes, to analyze the integrity of buildings, and to uncover ancient archaeological sites [...]
Remote Sens.2015, 7(3), 2449-2470; doi:10.3390/rs70302449 - published 2 March 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Central Asia comprises a large fraction of the world’s drylands, known to be vulnerable to climate change. We analyzed the inter-annual trends and the impact of climate variability in the vegetation greenness for Central Asia from 1982 to 2011 using GIMMS3g normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) data. In our study, most areas showed an increasing trend during 1982–1991, but experienced a significantly decreasing trend for 1992–2011. Vegetation changes were closely coupled to climate variables (precipitation and temperature) during 1982–1991 and 1992–2011, but the response trajectories differed between these two periods. The warming trend in Central Asia initially enhanced the vegetation greenness before 1991, but the continued warming trend subsequently became a suppressant of further gains in greenness afterwards. Precipitation expanded its influence on larger vegetated areas in 1992–2011 when compared to 1982–1991. Moreover, the time-lag response of plants to rainfall tended to increase after 1992 compared to the pre-1992 period, indicating that plants might have experienced functional transformations to adapt the climate change during the study period. The impact of climate on vegetation was significantly different for the different sub-regions before and after 1992, coinciding with the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). It was suggested that these spatio-temporal patterns in greenness change and their relationship with climate change for some regions could be explained by the changes in the socio-economic structure resulted from the USSR collapse in late 1991. Our results clearly illustrate the combined influence of climatic/anthropogenic contributions on vegetation growth in Central Asian drylands. Due to the USSR collapse, this region represents a unique case study of the vegetation response to climate changes under different climatic and socio-economic conditions.
Remote Sens.2015, 7(3), 2431-2448; doi:10.3390/rs70302431 - published 2 March 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Forest fires are a critical natural disturbance in most of the forested ecosystems around the globe, including the Canadian boreal forest where fires are recurrent. Here, our goal was to develop a new daily-scale forest fire danger forecasting system (FFDFS) using remote sensing data and implement it over the northern part of Canadian province of Alberta during 2009–2011 fire seasons. The daily-scale FFDFS was comprised of Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)-derived four-input variables, i.e., 8-day composite of surface temperature (TS), normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), and normalized multiband drought index (NMDI); and daily precipitable water (PW). The TS, NMDI, and NDVI variables were calculated during i period and PW during j day and then integrated to forecast fire danger conditions in five categories (i.e., extremely high, very high, high, moderate, and low) during j+1 day. Our findings revealed that overall 95.51% of the fires fell under “extremely high” to “moderate” danger classes. Therefore, FFDFS has potential to supplement operational meteorological-based forecasting systems in between the observed meteorological stations and remote parts of the landscape.