Temporal Convolutional Neural Network for the Classification of Satellite Image Time Series

Charlotte Pelletier, Geoffrey I. Webb, Francois Petitjean

New remote sensing sensors now acquire high spatial and spectral Satellite Image Time Series (SITS) of the world. These series of images are a key component of classification systems that aim at obtaining up-to-date and accurate land cover maps of the Earth's surfaces. More specifically, the combination of the temporal, spectral and spatial resolutions of new SITS makes possible to monitor vegetation dynamics. Although traditional classification algorithms, such as Random Forest (RF), have been successfully applied for SITS classification, these algorithms do not make the most of the temporal domain. Conversely, some approaches that take into account the temporal dimension have recently been tested, especially Recurrent Neural Networks (RNNs). This paper proposes an exhaustive study of another deep learning approaches, namely Temporal Convolutional Neural Networks (TempCNNs) where convolutions are applied in the temporal dimension. The goal is to quantitatively and qualitatively evaluate the contribution of TempCNNs for SITS classification. This paper proposes a set of experiments performed on one million time series extracted from 46 Formosat-2 images. The experimental results show that TempCNNs are more accurate than RF and RNNs, that are the current state of the art for SITS classification. We also highlight some differences with results obtained in computer vision, e.g. about pooling layers. Moreover, we provide some general guidelines on the network architecture, common regularization mechanisms, and hyper-parameter values such as batch size. Finally, we assess the visual quality of the land cover maps produced by TempCNNs.

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