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Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 based frequency of open and vegetated water across the United States (2017-2021)

March 22, 2023

High-frequency observations of surface water at fine spatial scales are critical to effectively manage aquatic habitat, flood risk and water quality. We developed inundation algorithms for Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 across 12 sites within the conterminous United States (CONUS) covering greater than 536,000 km2 and representing diverse hydrologic and vegetation landscapes. These algorithms were trained on data from 13,412 points spread throughout the 12 sites. Each scene in the 5-year (2017-2021) time series was classified into open water, vegetated water, and non-water at 20 m resolution using variables not only from Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2, but also variables derived from topographic and weather datasets. The Sentinel-1 model was developed distinct from the Sentinel-2 model to enable the two time series to be integrated into a single high-frequency time series, while open water and vegetated water were both mapped to retain mixed pixel inundation. Results were validated against 7,200 visually inspected points derived from WorldView and PlanetScope imagery. Classification accuracy for open water was high across the 5-year period, with an omission and commission error of only 3.1% and 0.9% for Sentinel-1 and 3.1% and 0.5% for Sentinel-2, respectively. Vegetated water accuracy was lower, as expected given that the class represents mixed pixels. Sentinel-2 showed higher accuracy (10.7% omission and 7.9% commission error) relative to Sentinel-1 (28.4% omission and 16.0% commission error). Our results demonstrated that Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 time series can be integrated to improve the temporal resolution when mapping open and vegetated waters, although sensor-specific differences, such as sensitivity to vegetation structure versus pixel color, complicate the data integration for subpixel, vegetated water compared with open water.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2023
Title Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 based frequency of open and vegetated water across the United States (2017-2021)
DOI 10.5066/P9RSXQ2U
Authors Melanie K Vanderhoof, Laurie Alexander, Jay Christensen, Kylen K Solvik, Peter J Nieuwlandt, Mallory Sagehorn
Product Type Data Release
Record Source USGS Digital Object Identifier Catalog
USGS Organization Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center