Land Cover Classification from Multi-temporal, Multi-spectral Remotely Sensed Imagery using Patch-Based Recurrent Neural Networks

Atharva Sharma, Xiuwen Liu, Xiaojun Yang

Sustainability of the global environment is dependent on the accurate land cover information over large areas. Even with the increased number of satellite systems and sensors acquiring data with improved spectral, spatial, radiometric and temporal characteristics and the new data distribution policy, most existing land cover datasets were derived from a pixel-based single-date multi-spectral remotely sensed image with low accuracy. To improve the accuracy, the bottleneck is how to develop an accurate and effective image classification technique. By incorporating and utilizing the complete multi-spectral, multi-temporal and spatial information in remote sensing images and considering their inherit spatial and sequential interdependence, we propose a new patch-based RNN (PB-RNN) system tailored for multi-temporal remote sensing data. The system is designed by incorporating distinctive characteristics in multi-temporal remote sensing data. In particular, it uses multi-temporal-spectral-spatial samples and deals with pixels contaminated by clouds/shadow present in the multi-temporal data series. Using a Florida Everglades ecosystem study site covering an area of 771 square kilo-meters, the proposed PB-RNN system has achieved a significant improvement in the classification accuracy over pixel-based RNN system, pixel-based single-imagery NN system, pixel-based multi-images NN system, patch-based single-imagery NN system and patch-based multi-images NN system. For example, the proposed system achieves 97.21% classification accuracy while a pixel-based single-imagery NN system achieves 64.74%. By utilizing methods like the proposed PB-RNN one, we believe that much more accurate land cover datasets can be produced over large areas efficiently.

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