A Pixel-Based Landsat Compositing Algorithm for Large Area Land Cover Mapping


Information on the changing land surface is required at high spatial resolutions as many processes cannot be resolved using coarse resolution data. Deriving such information over large areas for Landsat data, however, still faces numerous challenges. Image compositing offers great potential to circumvent such shortcomings. We here present a compositing algorithm that facilitates creating cloud free, seasonally and radiometrically consistent datasets from the Landsat archive. A parametric weighting scheme allows for flexibly utilizing different pixel characteristics for optimized compositing. We describe in detail the development of three parameter decision functions: acquisition year, day of year and distance to clouds. Our test site covers 42 Landsat footprints in Eastern Europe and we produced three annual composites. We evaluated seasonal and annual consistency and compared our composites to BRDF normalized MODIS reflectance products. Finally, we also evaluated how well the composites work for land cover mapping. Results prove that our algorithm allows for creating seasonally consistent large area composites. Radiometric correspondence to MODIS was high (up to R 2 > 0.8), but varied with land cover configuration and selected image acquisition dates. Land cover mapping yielded promising results (overall accuracy 72%). Class delineations were regionally consistent with minimal effort for training data. Class specific accuracies increased considerably (~10%) when spectral metrics were incorporated. Our study highlights the value of compositing in general and for Landsat data in particular, allowing for regional to global LULCC mapping at high spatial resolutions.

IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing, 6(5) 2088-2101
Tobias Kuemmerle
Tobias Kuemmerle
Professor & Head of the Conservation Biogeography Lab