Exploring the optimal integration levels between SAR and optical data for better urban land cover mapping in the Pearl River Delta
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AbstractIntegrating synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and optical data to improve urban land cover classification has been identified as a promising approach. However, which integration level is the most suitable remains unclear but important to many researchers and engineers. This study aimed to compare different integration levels for providing a scientific reference for a wide range of studies using optical and SAR data. SAR data from TerraSAR-X and ENVISAT ASAR in both WSM and IMP modes were used to be combined with optical data at pixel level, feature level and decision levels using four typical machine learning methods. The experimental results indicated that: 1) feature level that used both the original images and extracted features achieved a significant improvement of up to 10% compared to that using optical data alone; 2) different levels of fusion required different suitable methods depending on the data distribution and data resolution. For instance, support vector machine was the most stable at both the feature and decision levels, while random forest was suitable at the pixel level but not suitable at the decision level. 3) By examining the distribution of SAR features, some features (e.g., homogeneity) exhibited a close-to-normal distribution, explaining the improvement from the maximum likelihood method at the feature and decision levels. This indicated the benefits of using texture features from SAR data when being combined with optical data for land cover classification. Additionally, the research also shown that combining optical and SAR data does not guarantee improvement compared with using single data source for urban land cover classification, depending on the selection of appropriate fusion levels and fusion methods.
All Author(s) ListHongsheng Zhang, Ru Xu
Journal nameInternational Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
Volume Number64
Pages87 - 95
LanguagesEnglish-United States

Last updated on 2021-07-05 at 00:22