A 30 m Resolution Surface Water Mask Including Estimation of Positional and Thematic Differences Using Landsat 8, SRTM and OpenStreetMap: A Case Study in the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia

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Abstract

Accurate maps of surface water are essential for many environmental applications. Surface water maps can be generated by combining measurements from multiple sources. Precise estimation of surface water using satellite imagery remains a challenging task due to the sensor limitations, complex land cover, topography, and atmospheric conditions. As a complementary dataset, in the case of hilly landscapes, a drainage network can be extracted from high-resolution digital elevation models. Additionally, Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) initiatives, such as OpenStreetMap, can also be used to produce high-resolution surface water masks. In this study, we derive a high-resolution water mask using Landsat 8 imagery and OpenStreetMap as well as (potential) a drainage network using 30 m SRTM. Our approach to derive a surface water mask from Landsat 8 imagery comprises the use of a lower 15% percentile of Landsat 8 Top of Atmosphere (TOA) reflectance from 2013 to 2015. We introduce a new non-parametric unsupervised method based on the Canny edge filter and Otsu thresholding to detect water in flat areas. For hilly areas, the method is extended with an additional supervised classification step used to refine the water mask. We applied the method across the Murray-Darling basin, Australia. Differences between our new Landsat-based water mask and the OpenStreetMap water mask regarding positional differences along the rivers and overall coverage were analyzed. Our results show that about 50% of the OpenStreetMap linear water features can be confirmed using the water mask extracted from Landsat 8 imagery and the drainage network derived from SRTM. We also show that the observed distances between river features derived from OpenStreetMap and Landsat 8 are mostly smaller than 60 m. The differences between the new water mask and SRTM-based linear features and hilly areas are slightly larger (110 m). The overall agreement between OpenStreetMap and Landsat 8 water masks is about 30%.

Original languageEnglish
Article number386
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalRemote Sensing
Volume8
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2016

Keywords

  • Canny edge filter
  • CART
  • EartH2Observe
  • HAND
  • Landsat 8
  • MNDWI
  • OpenStreetMap
  • Otsu thresholding
  • Rivers
  • SRTM
  • Water mask
  • OA-Fund TU Delft

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