Special Issue "Applications of RS and GIS Integration in Natural Resources and Envionmental Science"

A special issue of Remote Sensing (ISSN 2072-4292). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Remote Sensing".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 April 2020.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Jian Yang
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Kentucky, 730 Rose Street, Lexington, KY 40546, USA
Interests: forest landscape ecology; disturbance ecology; ecosystem modeling; land use and land cover change; ecosystem services; remote sensing and GIS; spatial statistics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Remote Sensing (RS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) often work hand-in-hand in mapping, analyzing, and disseminating spatial information. As a science of obtaining information from a distance, RS extracts spatially-explicit attributes about the Earth’s land and water surfaces using images acquired from aircraft or satellites. Such attributes can then be stored, managed, analyzed, and displayed in a GIS, in conjunction with auxiliary GIS data representing landscape features (e.g., topography, soil, roads, census, and political boundary) to (1) map spatial patterns of the attributes of interest, (2) identify their relationships to other features, (3) determine how the attributes change over time, and (4) estimate new characteristics or emergent properties from the existing remote sensing products. In essence, RS provides invaluable spatial data, often in raster format, to the GIS for further geoprocessing. Vice versa, many critical analyses of remotely sensed data such as geometric registration, radiometric correction, image classification, and change detection can benefit from the use of ancillary GIS data and geoprocessing procedures (e.g., masking, overlay, and proximity analysis). The integration of RS/GIS has been successfully applied in many fields related to natural resources and environmental science, including agriculture, forestry, land use, biological conversation, ecological restoration, and natural hazards management. With the recent advances in computing innovation, artificial intelligence, and big data science, the integration of remote sensing and GIS is approaching a new phase that will further enhance the analysis of spatial data from various sources.

In this Special issue, we would like to invite you to submit original research showcasing the innovative use of integrating remote sensing and GIS to solve complex research questions that are closely related to natural resources and environmental sciences. Contributions should have a section explicitly describing how RS and GIS are integrated into the research. Comprehensive reviews of this subject are also welcome. Potential topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • State-of-the-art geospatial techniques integrating remote sensing and GIS;
  • Inventive methods or tools developed to seamlessly integrate remote sensing and GIS in the applications of natural resources and environmental science;
  • In-depth use of multifaceted geoprocessing tools and GIS data to enhance remote sensing image processing operations;
  • Original GIS analysis of recently developed remote sensing data to assess natural resources and environment conditions.

Contributors are required to check the website below and follow the specific instructions for authors https://www.mdpi.com/journal/remotesensing/instructions.

Dr. Jian Yang
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Remote Sensing is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Integration of remote sensing and GIS 
  • Geoprocessing of remote sensing data
  • Natural resources mapping 
  • Remote sensing of environment 
  • Land surface processes 
  • Landscape approach
  • Ecosystem modeling 
  • Spatial analysis 
  • System integration

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Urban Land Use and Land Cover Classification Using Multisource Remote Sensing Images and Social Media Data
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(22), 2719; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11222719 - 19 Nov 2019
Abstract
Land use and land cover (LULC) are diverse and complex in urban areas. Remotely sensed images are commonly used for land cover classification but hardly identifies urban land use and functional areas because of the semantic gap (i.e., different definitions of similar or [...] Read more.
Land use and land cover (LULC) are diverse and complex in urban areas. Remotely sensed images are commonly used for land cover classification but hardly identifies urban land use and functional areas because of the semantic gap (i.e., different definitions of similar or identical buildings). Social media data, “marks” left by people using mobile phones, have great potential to overcome this semantic gap. Multisource remote sensing data are also expected to be useful in distinguishing different LULC types. This study examined the capability of combined multisource remote sensing images and social media data in urban LULC classification. Multisource remote sensing images included a Chinese ZiYuan-3 (ZY-3) high-resolution image, a Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI) multispectral image, and a Sentinel-1A synthetic aperture radar (SAR) image. Social media data consisted of the hourly spatial distribution of WeChat users, which is a ubiquitous messaging and payment platform in China. LULC was classified into 10 types, namely, vegetation, bare land, road, water, urban village, greenhouses, residential, commercial, industrial, and educational buildings. A method that integrates object-based image analysis, decision trees, and random forests was used for LULC classification. The overall accuracy and kappa value attained by the combination of multisource remote sensing images and WeChat data were 87.55% and 0.84, respectively. They further improved to 91.55% and 0.89, respectively, by integrating the textural and spatial features extracted from the ZY-3 image. The ZY-3 high-resolution image was essential for urban LULC classification because it is necessary for the accurate delineation of land parcels. The addition of Landsat 8 OLI, Sentinel-1A SAR, or WeChat data also made an irreplaceable contribution to the classification of different LULC types. The Landsat 8 OLI image helped distinguish between the urban village, residential buildings, commercial buildings, and roads, while the Sentinel-1A SAR data reduced the confusion between commercial buildings, greenhouses, and water. Rendering the spatial and temporal dynamics of population density, the WeChat data improved the classification accuracies of an urban village, greenhouses, and commercial buildings. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Improving the Accuracy of Fine-Grained Population Mapping Using Population-Sensitive POIs
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(21), 2502; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11212502 - 25 Oct 2019
Abstract
Many methods have been used to generate gridded population maps by downscaling demographic data. As one of these methods, the accuracy of the dasymetric model depends heavily on the covariates. Point-of-interest (POI) data, as important covariates, have been widely used for population estimation. [...] Read more.
Many methods have been used to generate gridded population maps by downscaling demographic data. As one of these methods, the accuracy of the dasymetric model depends heavily on the covariates. Point-of-interest (POI) data, as important covariates, have been widely used for population estimation. However, POIs are often used indiscriminately in existing studies. A few studies further used selected categories of POIs identified based only on the nonspatial quantitative relationship between the POIs and population. In this paper, the spatial association between the POIs and population distribution was considered to identify the POIs with a strong spatial correlation with the population distribution, i.e., population-sensitive POIs. The ability of population-sensitive POIs to improve the fine-grained population mapping accuracy was explored by comparing the results of random forest dasymetric models driven by population-sensitive POIs, all POIs, and no POIs, along with the same sets of multisource remote sensing and social sensing data. The results showed that the model driven by population-sensitive POI had the highest accuracy. Population-sensitive POIs were also more effective in improving the population mapping accuracy than were POIs selected based only on their quantitative relationship with the population. The model built using population-sensitive POIs also performed better than the two popular gridded population datasets WorldPop and LandScan. The model we proposed in this study can be used to generate accurate spatial population distribution information and contributes to achieving more reliable analyses of population-related social problems. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A GIS-Based Water Balance Approach Using a LiDAR-Derived DEM Captures Fine-Scale Vegetation Patterns
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(20), 2385; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11202385 - 15 Oct 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Topography exerts strong control on microclimate, resulting in distinctive vegetation patterns in areas of moderate to high relief. Using the Thornthwaite approach to account for hydrologic cycle components, a GIS-based Water Balance Toolset is presented as a means to address fine-scale species–site relationships. [...] Read more.
Topography exerts strong control on microclimate, resulting in distinctive vegetation patterns in areas of moderate to high relief. Using the Thornthwaite approach to account for hydrologic cycle components, a GIS-based Water Balance Toolset is presented as a means to address fine-scale species–site relationships. For each pixel within a study area, the toolset assesses inter-annual variations in moisture demand (governed by temperature and radiation) and availability (precipitation, soil storage). These in turn enable computation of climatic water deficit, the amount by which available moisture fails to meet demand. Summer deficit computed by the model correlates highly with the Standardized Precipitation–Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI) for drought at several sites across the eastern U.S. Yet the strength of the approach is its ability to model fine-scale patterns. For a 25-ha study site in central Indiana, individual tree locations were linked to summer deficit under different historical conditions: using average monthly climatic variables for 1998–2017, and for the drought year of 2012. In addition, future baseline and drought-year projections were modeled based on downscaled GCM data for 2071–2100. Although small deficits are observed under average conditions (historical or future), strong patterns linked to topography emerge during drought years. The modeled moisture patterns capture vegetation distributions described for the region, with beech and maple preferentially occurring in low-deficit settings, and oak and hickory dominating more xeric positions. End-of-century projections suggest severe deficit, which should favor oak and hickory over more mesic species. Pockets of smaller deficit persist on the landscape, but only when a fine-resolution Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR)-derived Digital Elevation Model (DEM) is used; a coarse-resolution DEM masks fine-scale variability and compresses the range of observed values. Identification of mesic habitat microrefugia has important implications for retreating species under altered climate. Using readily available data to evaluate fine-scale patterns of moisture demand and availability, the Water Balance Toolset provides a useful approach to explore species–environment linkages. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Multi-Hazard Exposure Mapping Using Machine Learning Techniques: A Case Study from Iran
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(16), 1943; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11161943 - 20 Aug 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Mountainous areas are highly prone to a variety of nature-triggered disasters, which often cause disabling harm, death, destruction, and damage. In this work, an attempt was made to develop an accurate multi-hazard exposure map for a mountainous area (Asara watershed, Iran), based on [...] Read more.
Mountainous areas are highly prone to a variety of nature-triggered disasters, which often cause disabling harm, death, destruction, and damage. In this work, an attempt was made to develop an accurate multi-hazard exposure map for a mountainous area (Asara watershed, Iran), based on state-of-the art machine learning techniques. Hazard modeling for avalanches, rockfalls, and floods was performed using three state-of-the-art models—support vector machine (SVM), boosted regression tree (BRT), and generalized additive model (GAM). Topo-hydrological and geo-environmental factors were used as predictors in the models. A flood dataset (n = 133 flood events) was applied, which had been prepared using Sentinel-1-based processing and ground-based information. In addition, snow avalanche (n = 58) and rockfall (n = 101) data sets were used. The data set of each hazard type was randomly divided to two groups: Training (70%) and validation (30%). Model performance was evaluated by the true skill score (TSS) and the area under receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) criteria. Using an exposure map, the multi-hazard map was converted into a multi-hazard exposure map. According to both validation methods, the SVM model showed the highest accuracy for avalanches (AUC = 92.4%, TSS = 0.72) and rockfalls (AUC = 93.7%, TSS = 0.81), while BRT demonstrated the best performance for flood hazards (AUC = 94.2%, TSS = 0.80). Overall, multi-hazard exposure modeling revealed that valleys and areas close to the Chalous Road, one of the most important roads in Iran, were associated with high and very high levels of risk. The proposed multi-hazard exposure framework can be helpful in supporting decision making on mountain social-ecological systems facing multiple hazards. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Determining Optimal Solar Power Plant Locations Based on Remote Sensing and GIS Methods: A Case Study from Croatia
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(12), 1481; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11121481 - 22 Jun 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
In the last few years, the world has been turning to the exploitation of renewable energy sources due to increased awareness of environmental protection and increased consumption of fossil fuels. In this research, by applying geographic information systems and integrating them with multi-criteria [...] Read more.
In the last few years, the world has been turning to the exploitation of renewable energy sources due to increased awareness of environmental protection and increased consumption of fossil fuels. In this research, by applying geographic information systems and integrating them with multi-criteria decision making methods, an area suitable for the construction and exploitation of renewable energy sources is determined. The research uses not only climate, spatial, environmental, and geomorphological parameters but also socioeconomic parameters, population, unemployment, and number of tourist nights as well as electricity consumption. By applying spatial analysis, rasters of all parameters were created using GRASS GIS software. Using the analytic hierarchy process, the calculated rasters are assigned with weight coefficients, and the sum of all those rasters gives the final raster of optimal locations for the construction of solar power plants in Croatia. To test the accuracy of the obtained results, sensitivity analysis was performed using different weight coefficients of the parameters. From the sensitivity analysis results, as well as a histogram and statistical indicators of the three rasters, it is apparent that raster F1 gives the best results. The most decisive parameters in determining the optimal solar plant locations that result from this research are GHI, land cover, and distance to the electricity network. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
An Improved Approach Considering Intraclass Variability for Mapping Winter Wheat Using Multitemporal MODIS EVI Images
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(10), 1191; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11101191 - 19 May 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Winter wheat is one of the major cereal crops in the world. Monitoring and mapping its spatial distribution has significant implications for agriculture management, water resources utilization, and food security. Generally, winter wheat has distinguished phenological stages during the growing season, which form [...] Read more.
Winter wheat is one of the major cereal crops in the world. Monitoring and mapping its spatial distribution has significant implications for agriculture management, water resources utilization, and food security. Generally, winter wheat has distinguished phenological stages during the growing season, which form a unique EVI (Enhanced Vegetation Index) time series curve and differ considerably from other crop types and natural vegetation. Since early 2000, the MODIS EVI product has become the primary dataset for satellite-based crop monitoring at large scales due to its high temporal resolution, huge observation scope, and timely availability. However, the intraclass variability of winter wheat caused by field conditions and agricultural practices might lower the mapping accuracy, which has received little attention in previous studies. Here, we present a winter wheat mapping approach that integrates the variables derived from the MODIS EVI time series taking into account intraclass variability. We applied this approach to two winter wheat concentration areas, the state of Kansas in the U.S. and the North China Plain region (NCP). The results were evaluated against crop-specific maps or statistical data at the state/regional level, county level, and site level. Compared with statistical data, the accuracies in Kansas and the NCP were 95.1% and 92.9% at the state/regional level with R2 (Coefficient of Determination) values of 0.96 and 0.71 at the county level, respectively. Overall accuracies in confusion matrix were evaluated by validation samples in both Kansas (90.3%) and the NCP (85.0%) at the site level. Comparisons with methods without considering intraclass variability demonstrated that winter wheat mapping accuracies were improved by 17% in Kansas and 15% in the NCP using the improved approach. Further analysis indicated that our approach performed better in areas with lower landscape fragmentation, which may partly explain the relatively higher accuracy of winter wheat mapping in Kansas. This study provides a new perspective for generating multiple subclasses as training inputs to decrease the intraclass differences for crop type detection based on the MODIS EVI time series. This approach provides a flexible framework with few variables and fewer training samples that could facilitate its application to multiple-crop-type mapping at large scales. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Spatial Distribution of Forest Fire Emissions: A Case Study in Three Mexican Ecoregions
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(10), 1185; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11101185 - 18 May 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
This study shows a simplified approach for calculating emissions associated with forest fires in Mexico, based on different satellite observation products: the biomass, burnt area, emission factors, and burning efficiency. Biomass loads were based on a Mexican biomass map, updated with the net [...] Read more.
This study shows a simplified approach for calculating emissions associated with forest fires in Mexico, based on different satellite observation products: the biomass, burnt area, emission factors, and burning efficiency. Biomass loads were based on a Mexican biomass map, updated with the net primary productivity products. The burning efficiency was estimated from a Random Forest Regression (RFR) model, which considered the fuel, weather and topographical conditions. The burned areas were the downloaded Maryland University MCD64c6 product. The emission factors were obtained from well-known estimations, corrected by a dedicated US Forest Service and Mexican campaign. The uncertainty was estimated from an integrative method. Our method was applied to a four-year period, 2011–2014, in three Mexican ecoregions. The total burned in the study region was 12,898 km2 (about 4% of the area), producing 67.5 (±20) Tg of CO2. Discrepancies of the land cover maps were found to be the main cause of a low correlation between our estimations and the Global Emission Database (GFED). The emissions were clearly associated to precipitation patterns. They mainly affected dry and tropical forests (almost 50% of all emissions). Six priority areas were identified, where prevention or mitigation measures must be implemented. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Modeling Barrier Island Habitats Using Landscape Position Information
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(8), 976; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11080976 - 24 Apr 2019
Abstract
Barrier islands are dynamic environments because of their position along the marine–estuarine interface. Geomorphology influences habitat distribution on barrier islands by regulating exposure to harsh abiotic conditions. Researchers have identified linkages between habitat and landscape position, such as elevation and distance from shore, [...] Read more.
Barrier islands are dynamic environments because of their position along the marine–estuarine interface. Geomorphology influences habitat distribution on barrier islands by regulating exposure to harsh abiotic conditions. Researchers have identified linkages between habitat and landscape position, such as elevation and distance from shore, yet these linkages have not been fully leveraged to develop predictive models. Our aim was to evaluate the performance of commonly used machine learning algorithms, including K-nearest neighbor, support vector machine, and random forest, for predicting barrier island habitats using landscape position for Dauphin Island, Alabama, USA. Landscape position predictors were extracted from topobathymetric data. Models were developed for three tidal zones: subtidal, intertidal, and supratidal/upland. We used a contemporary habitat map to identify landscape position linkages for habitats, such as beach, dune, woody vegetation, and marsh. Deterministic accuracy, fuzzy accuracy, and hindcasting were used for validation. The random forest algorithm performed best for intertidal and supratidal/upland habitats, while the K-nearest neighbor algorithm performed best for subtidal habitats. A posteriori application of expert rules based on theoretical understanding of barrier island habitats enhanced model results. For the contemporary model, deterministic overall accuracy was nearly 70%, and fuzzy overall accuracy was over 80%. For the hindcast model, deterministic overall accuracy was nearly 80%, and fuzzy overall accuracy was over 90%. We found machine learning algorithms were well-suited for predicting barrier island habitats using landscape position. Our model framework could be coupled with hydrodynamic geomorphologic models for forecasting habitats with accelerated sea-level rise, simulated storms, and restoration actions. Full article
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