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Comparison of remote sensing change detection techniques for assessing hurricane damage to forests

Wang, Fugui, Xu, Y. Jun
Environmental monitoring and assessment 2010 v.162 no.1-4 pp. 311-326
Landsat, aerial photography, algorithms, forest damage, forests, hurricanes, landscapes, normalized difference vegetation index, principal component analysis, remote sensing, storm damage, thematic maps
This study compared performance of four change detection algorithms with six vegetation indices derived from pre- and post-Katrina Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) imagery and a composite of the TM bands 4, 5, and 3 in order to select an optimal remote sensing technique for identifying forestlands disturbed by Hurricane Katrina. The algorithms included univariate image differencing (UID), selective principal component analysis (PCA), change vector analysis (CVA), and postclassification comparison (PCC). The indices consisted of near-infrared to red ratios, normalized difference vegetation index, Tasseled Cap index of greenness, brightness, and wetness (TCW), and soil-adjusted vegetation index. In addition to the satellite imagery, the “ground truth” data of forest damage were also collected through field investigation and interpretation of post-Katrina aerial photos. Disturbed forests were identified by classifying the composite and the continuous change imagery with the supervised classification method. Results showed that the change detection techniques exerted apparent influence on detection results with an overall accuracy varying between 51% and 86% and a kappa statistics ranging from 0.02 to 0.72. Detected areas of disturbed forestlands were noticeable in two groups: 180,832-264,617 and 85,861-124,205 ha. The landscape of disturbed forests also displayed two unique patterns, depending upon the area group. The PCC algorithm along with the composite image contributed the highest accuracy and lowest error (0.5%) in estimating areas of disturbed forestlands. Both UID and CVA performed similarly, but caution should be taken when using selective PCA in detecting hurricane disturbance to forests. Among the six indices, TCW outperformed the other indices owing to its maximum sensitivity to forest modification. This study suggested that compared with the detection algorithms, proper selection of vegetation indices was more critical for obtaining satisfactory results.