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Representative lake water extent mapping at continental scales using multi-temporal Landsat-8 imagery

Sheng, Yongwei, Song, Chunqiao, Wang, Jida, Lyons, Evan A., Knox, Benjamin R., Cox, Joshua S., Gao, Feng
Remote Sensing of Environment 2016
Landsat, algorithms, cartography, case studies, data analysis, hydrologic cycle, image analysis, lakes, remote sensing, temporal variation, Pacific Ocean Islands
Inland lakes, important water resources, play a crucial role in the global water cycle and are sensitive to climate change and human activities. There clearly is a pressing need to understand temporal and spatial variations of lakes at global and continental scales. The recent operation of Landsat 8 extends the unprecedented Landsat record to over 40 years, allowing long-term, large-scale lake dynamicsmapping at high resolutions. Using our circa-2000 lake product derived from Landsat 7 images as a reference, this research produces a circa-2015 map of representative lake extents and distributions, and addresses seasonal and inter-annual lake area variability using Landsat 8 images acquired in lake stable seasons at a continental scale. Oceania is chosen here as a case study as it contains a large group of salt lakes that exhibit high area variability and has the most intensive image coverage during the first 2.5-year operation of Landsat 8. Accordingly, this paper describes an adaptive algorithm to automate lake mapping for various surface conditions using images acquired during lake stable seasons and a compositing scheme in the vector domain to generate a representative continental mosaic of lake extents from multi-temporal mapping. Our results demonstrate that these strategies and methods produce a highly reliable and representative composite of highly-variable lake extents across Oceania, and are potentially applicable to other large-scale lake mapping projects using multi-temporal data.