Canadian Forest Service Publications

Discriminating treed and non-treed wetlands in boreal ecosystems using time series Sentinel-1 data. 2020. Li, Z.; Chen, H.; White, J.C.; Wulder, M.A.; Hermosilla, T. Int J Appl Earth Obs Geoinformation 85, 102007.

Year: 2020

Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 40042

Language: English

Availability: PDF (download)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1016/j.jag.2019.102007

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Abstract

Wetlands are recognized for their importance to a range of ecosystem goods and services; however, detailed information on wetland presence, type, extent, and persistence is challenging to attain over large areas and/or long time periods due to the spatial complexity and temporal dynamism of wetlands. In this study we explored the potential for within-year time series of C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) observations from the free and open Sentinel-1 data archive to improve discrimination of treed and non-treed wetlands and non-wetlands in a boreal forest environment. Through a set of 3843 classification experiments for the year 2017, we tested the influence of three factors on classification accuracy: (i) input features (two backscatter coefficients in VV and VH polarization (VV and VH) and four quantitative measures derived from the Stokes vector); (ii) the temporal form of features (i.e. using all within-year observations versus generalized measures such as monthly/seasonal means or annualized statistics); and (iii) missing observations in Sentinel-1 time series due to varying observation availability across space. Among the tested features, we found the greatest utility in VV and VH. Directly using all within-year observations yielded higher accuracy than using generalized temporal forms. Moreover, the temporal form of the features had a greater impact on classification accuracy than the features themselves. The highest overall accuracy (0.860 ± 0.002) was achieved using VV and VH from all within-year observations. The majority of class confusion occurred between treed wetlands and non-wetlands. We found no significant reduction in the overall accuracy by simulated missing observations in time series when using all within-year observations. With the increasing availability of free and open data from the Sentinel-1 archive, new opportunities are emerging to readily integrate within-year time series into large-area land cover mapping, particularly if analysis-ready SAR data products further reduce preprocessing requirements for end users.

Plain Language Summary

Wetlands are widely recognized for their importance to a range of ecosystem goods and services; however, detailed information on wetland presence, type, extent, and persistence is challenging to attain over large areas and/or long time periods due to the spatial complexity and temporal dynamism of wetlands. In this study we explored the potential for within-year time series of C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) observations from the free and open Sentinel-1 data archive to improve discrimination of treed and non-treed wetlands and non-wetlands in a boreal forest environment. Given the importance of wetlands as a component of boreal ecosystems and to a broad range of ecosystem goods and services, biodiversity and human wellbeing, it is of both scientific and management interest to take advantage of Sentinel-1 data to produce improved information on wetland presence, type, extent, and persistence over large areas and/or long time periods. In this research, we explored the potential for within-year time series of six Sentinel-1 features to improve discrimination of treed and non-treed wetlands and non-wetlands in a boreal forest environment.