Canadian Forest Service Publications

Validation of a large area land cover product using purpose-acquired airborne video. 2007. Wulder, M.A.; White, J.C.; Magnussen, S.; McDonald, S. Remote Sensing of Environment 106: 480-491.

Year: 2007

Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 26766

Language: English

Availability: PDF (download)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1016/j.rse.2006.09.012

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Large area land cover products generated from remotely sensed data are difficult to validate in a timely and cost effective manner. As a result, pre-existing data are often used for validation. Temporal, spatial, and attribute differences between the land cover product and pre-existing validation data can result in inconclusive depictions of map accuracy. This approach may therefore misrepresent the true accuracy of the land cover product, as well as the accuracy of the validation data, which is not assumed to be without error. Hence, purpose-acquired validation data is preferred; however, logistical constraints often preclude its use — especially for large area land cover products. Airborne digital video provides a cost-effective tool for collecting purpose-acquired validation data over large areas. An operational trial was conducted, involving the collection of airborne video for the validation of a 31,000 km2 sub-sample of the Canadian large area Earth Observation for Sustainable Development of Forests (EOSD) land cover map (Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada). In this trial, one form of agreement between the EOSD product and the airborne video data was defined as a match between the mode land cover class of a 3 by 3 pixel neighbourhood surrounding the sample pixel and the primary or secondary choice of land cover for the interpreted video. This scenario produced the highest level of overall accuracy at 77% for level 4 of classification hierarchy (13 classes). The coniferous treed class, which represented 71% of Vancouver Island, had an estimated user's accuracy of 86%. Purpose acquired video was found to be a useful and cost-effective data source for validation of the EOSD land cover product. The impact of using multiple interpreters was also tested and documented. Improvements to the sampling and response designs that emerged from this trial will benefit a full-scale accuracy assessment of the EOSD product and also provides insights for other regional and global land cover mapping programs.