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The vast amount of data collected by satellites via remote sensing is a valuable resource, however, it lacks machine search capabilities. In particular, large land cover datasets, such as the 30-m/cell NLCD 2006 covering the entire conterminous United States, are rarely analyzed as a whole due to the lack of tools beyond the basic statistics and SQL queries. Consequently, the NLCD is underutilized relative to its potential. We address this issue by introducing LandEx—a GeoWeb application for real time, content-based exploration and mining of land cover patterns in large datasets. By combining the functionality of online computerized maps with the power of the pattern recognition algorithm, LandEx provides an easy to use visual search engine for the entire extent of the NLCD at its full resolution. The user selects a pattern of interest (a query) and the tool produces a similarity map indicating the spatial distribution of locations having patterns of land cover similar to that in the query. Pattern-based query and retrieval addresses the issue of structural similarity between landscapes. The core of the method is the similarity function between two patterns which is based on 2D land cover class/clump size histograms and the Jensen-Shannon divergence. The search relies on exhaustive evaluation using an overlapping sliding window approach. LandEx is implemented using Free Open Source Software (FOSS) software and adheres to the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards. The wait time for an answer to a query is only several seconds due to the high level of system optimization. The methodology and implementation of LandEx are described in detail and illustrative examples of its application to different domains, including agriculture, forestry, and urbanization are given.
Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing, IEEE Journal of (Volume:PP , Issue: 99 )