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A comparison of pixel- and object-based glacier classification with optical satellite images


Rastner, Philipp; Bolch, Tobias; Notarnicola, Claudia; Paul, Frank (2014). A comparison of pixel- and object-based glacier classification with optical satellite images. IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing, 7(3):853-862.

Abstract

Precise information about the size and spatial distribution of glaciers is needed for many research applications, for example water resources evaluation, determination of glacier specific changes in area and volume, and for calculation of the past and future contribution of glaciers to sea-level change. However, mapping glacier outlines is challenging even under optimal conditions due to time consuming manual corrections of wrongly classified pixels. In the last decades, advantages in computer technologies have led to the development of object-based-image analysis (OBIA), an image classification technique that can be seen as an alternative to the common pixel-based image analysis (PBIA). In this study we compare the performance of OBIA with PBIA for glacier mapping in three test regions with challenging mapping conditions. In both approaches, a ratio image was created to map clean snow and ice while thermal and slope information was used to assist in the identification of debris-covered ice. The mapping results of OBIA have overall a  3% higher quality than PBIA, in particular in the processing of debris-covered glaciers where OBIA has a 12% higher accuracy. The post-processing possibilities in OBIA (e.g., the application of a processing loop and neighborhood analysis) are especially powerful to improve the final classification. This leads also to a reduction of the workload for the manual corrections, which are still required to achieve a sufficient accuracy.

Abstract

Precise information about the size and spatial distribution of glaciers is needed for many research applications, for example water resources evaluation, determination of glacier specific changes in area and volume, and for calculation of the past and future contribution of glaciers to sea-level change. However, mapping glacier outlines is challenging even under optimal conditions due to time consuming manual corrections of wrongly classified pixels. In the last decades, advantages in computer technologies have led to the development of object-based-image analysis (OBIA), an image classification technique that can be seen as an alternative to the common pixel-based image analysis (PBIA). In this study we compare the performance of OBIA with PBIA for glacier mapping in three test regions with challenging mapping conditions. In both approaches, a ratio image was created to map clean snow and ice while thermal and slope information was used to assist in the identification of debris-covered ice. The mapping results of OBIA have overall a  3% higher quality than PBIA, in particular in the processing of debris-covered glaciers where OBIA has a 12% higher accuracy. The post-processing possibilities in OBIA (e.g., the application of a processing loop and neighborhood analysis) are especially powerful to improve the final classification. This leads also to a reduction of the workload for the manual corrections, which are still required to achieve a sufficient accuracy.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2014
Deposited On:24 Sep 2013 11:47
Last Modified:07 Dec 2017 22:34
Publisher:Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
ISSN:1939-1404
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1109/JSTARS.2013.2274668

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