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Kriging methods with auxiliary nighttime lights data to detect potentially toxic metals concentrations in soil

Zhen, Jinchun, Pei, Tao, Xie, Shuyun
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.659 pp. 363-371
anthropogenic activities, barium, cation exchange capacity, copper, digital elevation models, image analysis, kriging, land use, lead, nickel, pH, prediction, soil types, spatial data, toxicity, vegetation index, zinc, United Kingdom
The spatial distribution of potentially toxic metals (PTMs) has been shown to be related to anthropogenic activities. Several auxiliary variables, such as those related to remote sensing data (e.g. digital elevation models, land use, and enhanced vegetation index) and soil properties (e.g. pH, soil type and cation exchange capacity), have been used to predict the spatial distribution of soil PTMs. However, these variables are mostly focused on natural processes or a single aspect of anthropogenic activities and cannot reflect the effects of integrated anthropogenic activities. Nighttime lights (NTL) images, a representative variable of integrated anthropogenic activities, may have the potential to reflect PTMs distribution. To uncover this relationship and determine the effects on evaluation precision, the NTL was employed as an auxiliary variable to map the distribution of PTMs in the United Kingdom. In this study, areas with a digital number (DN) ≥ 50 and an area > 30 km2 were extracted from NTL images to represent regions of high-frequency anthropogenic activities. Subsequently, the distance between the sampling points and the nearest extracted area was calculated. Barium, lead, zinc, copper, and nickel concentrations exhibited the highest correlation with this distance. Their concentrations were mapped using distance as an auxiliary variable through three different kriging methods, i.e., ordinary kriging (OK), cokriging (CK), and regression kriging (RK). The accuracy of the predictions was evaluated using the leave-one-out cross validation method. Regardless of the elements, CK and RK always exhibited lower mean absolute error and root mean square error, in contrast to OK. This indicates that using the NTL as the auxiliary variable indeed enhanced the prediction accuracy for the relevant PTMs. Additionally, RK showed superior results in most cases. Hence, we recommend RK for prediction of PTMs when using the NTL as the auxiliary variable.