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Integration of optical and radar classifications for mapping pasture type in Western Australia

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6 Author(s)
Hill, M.J. ; Bur. of Rural Sci., Canberra, ACT, Australia ; Ticehurst, C.J. ; Jong-Sen Lee ; Grunes, M.R.
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In this study, independent classifications of Landsat Thematic Mapper imagery and Jet Propulsion Laboratory AirSAR were combined to create an integrated classification of pasture and other vegetation types for a study area in the agricultural zone of Western Australia. The resulting classification combines greenness and brightness information from optical data with structure and water content information from synthetic aperture radar (SAR). Field observations of vegetation type, botanical composition, ground cover percentage, wet and dry biomass, canopy height, and soil water content were collected at 34 sites representing a range of pastures, browse shrubs, and crops. An unsupervised version of the Complex Wishart classification procedure, based on preserving scattering characteristics from the Freeman and Durden backscatter decomposition, was applied to the C-, L-, and P-band polarimetric SAR data. The optical classification was carried out using a principle component analysis on the green, red, and near-infrared bands and clustering on the basis of a class centroid distance measure and knowledge of ground targets. These two classification results were then fused together. Assessment of a confusion matrix using the individual sites showed that identification of more uniform, dense, and structurally distinct canopies was better than that of more diverse, sparse, and structurally ambiguous canopies, as the former were better represented by the canopy height attribute used in the SAR classification component. The optical classification enabled correction of SAR misclassification of vegetation due to surface roughness and soil moisture effects, or similar backscatter responses from herbaceous or arboreal canopies. The results show that simplification of vegetation into groups based upon properties with sensitive responses in both the optical and SAR domains, and combination of separate SAR and optical classifications, has potential for improving classification of diverse and heterogeneous herbaceous and browse cover in grazing lands. However, collection of ground calibration data must be at an appropriate spatial scale and include canopy and surface measurements directly related to backscatter mechanisms and spectral sensitivity.

Published in:

Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:43 ,  Issue: 7 )

Date of Publication:

July 2005

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