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Over large areas, land cover classification has conventionally been undertaken using satellite time series. Typically temporal metric percentiles derived from single pixel location time series have been used to take advantage of spectral differences among land cover classes over time and to minimize the impact of missing observations. Deep convolutional neural networks (CNNs) have demonstrated potential for land cover classification of single date images. However, over large areas and using time series their application is complicated because they are sensitive to missing observations and they may misclassify small and spatially fragmented surface features due to their spatial patch-based implementation. This study demonstrates, for the first time, a one-dimensional (1D) CNN single pixel time series land classification approach that uses temporal percentile metrics and that does not have these issues. This is demonstrated for all the Conterminous United States (CONUS) considering two different 1D CNN structures with 5 and 8 layers, respectively. CONUS 30 m land cover classifications were derived using all the available Landsat-5 and -7 imagery over a seven-month growing season in 2011 with 3.3 million 30 m land cover class labelled samples extracted from the contemporaneous CONUS National Land Cover Database (NLCD) 16 class land cover product. The 1D CNNs and, a conventional random forest model, were trained using 10%, 50% and 90% samples, and the classification accuracies were evaluated with an independent 10% proportion. Temporal metrics were classified using 5, 7 and 9 percentiles for each of five Landsat reflective wavelength bands and their eight band ratios. The CONUS and detailed 150 × 150 km classification results demonstrate that the approach is effective at scale and locally. The 1D CNN classification land cover class boundaries were preserved for small axis dimension features, such as roads and rivers, with no stripes or anomalous spatial patterns. The 8-layer 1D CNN provided the highest overall classification accuracies and both the 5-layer and 8-layer 1D CNN architectures provided higher accuracies than the random forest by 1.9% - 2.8% which as all the accuracies were > 83% is a meaningful increase. The CONUS overall classification accuracies increased marginally with the number of percentiles (86.21%, 86.40%, and 86.43% for 5, 7 and 9 percentiles, respectively) using the 8-layer 1D-CNN. Class specific producer and user accuracies were quantified, with lower accuracies for the developed land, crop and pasture/hay classes, but no systematic pattern among classes with respect to the number of temporal percentiles used. Application of the trained model to a different year of CONUS Landsat ARD showed moderately decreased accuracy (80.79% for 7 percentiles) that we illustrate is likely due to different intra-annual surface variations between years. These encouraging results are discussed with recommended research for deep learning using temporal metric percentiles.

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Remote Sensing of Environment





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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.