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River centerline extraction using the multiple direction integration algorithm for mixed and pure water pixels

Li, Quanwen, Lan, Hengxing, Zhao, Xiaoxia, Wu, Yuming
GIScience & remote sensing 2019 v.56 no.2 pp. 256-281
Landsat, agricultural land, algorithms, data collection, hydrology, normalized difference vegetation index, remote sensing, rivers, spatial data
The river centerline is a basic hydrological characteristic. Most prior studies have used remote sensing data to extract the river centerline from the open water region in a pure water pixel region. Extracting this type of river is relatively easy. However, extracting the centerline of a micro-river, which is mainly composed of mixed water pixels, is challenging. This paper presents a novel method, called the Multiple Direction Integration Algorithm (MDIA), to extract the river centerline using an image-enhancing method combined with river morphology. MDIA can be applied to regions mainly composed of pure water pixels, as well as to regions consisting of mixed water pixels in the index image. The method first calculates the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and enhances the river linear structure using a Hessian matrix. Second, a small window is constructed as a circular structural element. In the window region, the local threshold is automatically obtained using water-oriented clustering segmentation and prior river knowledge to judge the pixel type. After completing the river centerline extraction in the current window, the next detecting window is generated to continue judgment. The structural element automatically executes river centerline judgment until the entire river centerline is extracted. The Landsat 8 images of six regions with different geomorphologies were chosen to analyze the method’s performance. The test sites include high mountain region, low mountain region, plains region with farmland and a residential region. The experimental results show that the optimal threshold of the processing results ranged from 0.2 to 0.3. In this range, the user’s accuracy is 0.813 to 0.997, and the producer’s accuracy is 0.981 to 1. The MDIA effectively and correctly extracts the river network in mixed-pixel regions. The presented method provides an effective algorithm for river centerline extraction that can be used to expand and update river datasets and provide reliable river centerline data for relevant hydrology studies.