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The application of remote sensing to identify and measure sealed soil and vegetated surfaces in urban environments

By Maria Kampouraki


Soil is an important non-renewable source. Its protection and allocation is critical to sustainable development goals. Urban development presents an important drive of soil loss due to sealing over by buildings, pavements and transport infrastructure. Monitoring sealed soil surfaces in urban environments is gaining increasing interest not only for scientific research studies but also for local planning and national authorities. The aim of this research was to investigate the extent to which automated classification methods can detect soil sealing in UK urban environments, by remote sensing. The objectives include development of object-based classification methods, using two types of earth observation data, and evaluation by comparison with manual aerial photo interpretation techniques. Four sample areas within the city of Cambridge were used for the development of an object-based classification model. The acquired data was a true-colour aerial photography (0.125 m resolution) and a QuickBird satellite imagery (2.8 multi-spectral resolution). The classification scheme included the following land cover classes: sealed surfaces, vegetated surfaces, trees, bare soil and rail tracks. Shadowed areas were also identified as an initial class and attempts were made to reclassify them into the actual land cover type. The accuracy of the thematic maps was determined by comparison with polygons derived from manual air-photo interpretation; the average overall accuracy was 84%. The creation of simple binary maps of sealed vs. vegetated surfaces resulted in a statistically significant accuracy increase to 92%. The integration of ancillary data (OS MasterMap) into the object-based model did not improve the performance of the model (overall accuracy of 91%). The use of satellite data in the object-based model gave an overall accuracy of 80%, a 7% decrease compared to the aerial photography. Future investigation will explore whether the integration of elevation data will aid to discriminate features such as trees from other vegetation types. The use of colour infrared aerial photography should also be tested. Finally, the application of the object- based classification model into a different study area would test its transferability

Publisher: Cranfield University
Year: 2010
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Cranfield CERES

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