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A cloud shadow detection method combined with cloud height iteration and spectral analysis for Landsat 8 OLI data

Sun, Lin, Liu, Xinyan, Yang, Yikun, Chen, TingTing, Wang, Quan, Zhou, Xueying
ISPRS journal of photogrammetry and remote sensing 2018 v.138 pp. 193-207
Landsat, spectral analysis, temperature
Although enhanced over prior Landsat instruments, Landsat 8 OLI can obtain very high cloud detection precisions, but for the detection of cloud shadows, it still faces great challenges. Geometry-based cloud shadow detection methods are considered the most effective and are being improved constantly. The Function of Mask (Fmask) cloud shadow detection method is one of the most representative geometry-based methods that has been used for cloud shadow detection with Landsat 8 OLI. However, the Fmask method estimates cloud height employing fixed temperature rates, which are highly uncertain, and errors of large area cloud shadow detection can be caused by errors in estimations of cloud height. This article improves the geometry-based cloud shadow detection method for Landsat OLI from the following two aspects. (1) Cloud height no longer depends on the brightness temperature of the thermal infrared band but uses a possible dynamic range from 200 m to 12,000 m. In this case, cloud shadow is not a specific location but a possible range. Further analysis was carried out in the possible range based on the spectrum to determine cloud shadow location. This effectively avoids the cloud shadow leakage caused by the error in the height determination of a cloud. (2) Object-based and pixel spectral analyses are combined to detect cloud shadows, which can realize cloud shadow detection from two aspects of target scale and pixel scale. Based on the analysis of the spectral differences between the cloud shadow and typical ground objects, the best cloud shadow detection bands of Landsat 8 OLI were determined. The combined use of spectrum and shape can effectively improve the detection precision of cloud shadows produced by thin clouds. Several cloud shadow detection experiments were carried out, and the results were verified by the results of artificial recognition. The results of these experiments indicated that this method can identify cloud shadows in different regions with correct accuracy exceeding 80%, approximately 5% of the areas were wrongly identified, and approximately 10% of the cloud shadow areas were missing. The accuracy of this method is obviously higher than the recognition accuracy of Fmask, which has correct accuracy lower than 60%, and the missing recognition is approximately 40%.