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A flexible spatiotemporal method for fusing satellite images with different resolutions

Zhu, Xiaolin, Helmer, Eileen H., Gao, Feng, Liu, Desheng, Chen, Jin, Lefsky, Michael A.
Remote Sensing of Environment 2016 v.172 pp. 165-177
Landsat, land cover, landscapes, models, moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer, reflectance, remote sensing, time series analysis
Studies of land surface dynamics in heterogeneous landscapes often require remote sensing datawith high acquisition frequency and high spatial resolution. However, no single sensor meets this requirement. This study presents a new spatiotemporal data fusion method, the Flexible Spatiotemporal DAta Fusion (FSDAF) method, to generate synthesized frequent high spatial resolution images through blending two types of data, i.e., frequent coarse spatial resolution data, such as that from MODIS, and less frequent high spatial resolution data such as that from Landsat. The proposed method is based on spectral unmixing analysis and a thin plate spline interpolator. Compared with existing spatiotemporal data fusion methods, it has the following strengths: (1) it needs minimum input data; (2) it is suitable for heterogeneous landscapes; and (3) it can predict both gradual change and land cover type change. Simulated data and real satellite images were used to test the performance of the proposed method. Its performance was compared with two very popular methods, the Spatial and Temporal Adaptive Reflectance Fusion Model (STARFM) and an unmixing-based data fusion (UBDF) method. Results show that the new method creates more accurate fused images and keeps more spatial detail than STARFM and UBDF. More importantly, it closely captures reflectance changes caused by land cover conversions, which is a big issue with current spatiotemporal data fusion methods. Because the proposed method uses simple principles and needs only one fine-resolution image as input, it has the potential to increase the availability of high-resolution time-series data that can support studies of rapid land surface dynamics.