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Analysis of the impact of spatial resolution on land/water classifications using high-resolution aerial imagery

July 25, 2014

Long-term monitoring efforts often use remote sensing to track trends in habitat or landscape conditions over time. To most appropriately compare observations over time, long-term monitoring efforts strive for consistency in methods. Thus, advances and changes in technology over time can present a challenge. For instance, modern camera technology has led to an increasing availability of very high-resolution imagery (i.e. submetre and metre) and a shift from analogue to digital photography. While numerous studies have shown that image resolution can impact the accuracy of classifications, most of these studies have focused on the impacts of comparing spatial resolution changes greater than 2 m. Thus, a knowledge gap exists on the impacts of minor changes in spatial resolution (i.e. submetre to about 1.5 m) in very high-resolution aerial imagery (i.e. 2 m resolution or less).

This study compared the impact of spatial resolution on land/water classifications of an area dominated by coastal marsh vegetation in Louisiana, USA, using 1:12,000 scale colour-infrared analogue aerial photography (AAP) scanned at four different dot-per-inch resolutions simulating ground sample distances (GSDs) of 0.33, 0.54, 1, and 2 m. Analysis of the impact of spatial resolution on land/water classifications was conducted by exploring various spatial aspects of the classifications including density of waterbodies and frequency distributions in waterbody sizes. This study found that a small-magnitude change (1–1.5 m) in spatial resolution had little to no impact on the amount of water classified (i.e. percentage mapped was less than 1.5%), but had a significant impact on the mapping of very small waterbodies (i.e. waterbodies ≤ 250 m2). These findings should interest those using temporal image classifications derived from very high-resolution aerial photography as a component of long-term monitoring programs.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2014
Title Analysis of the impact of spatial resolution on land/water classifications using high-resolution aerial imagery
DOI 10.1080/01431161.2014.938181
Authors Nicholas M. Enwright, William R. Jones, Adrienne L. Garber, Matthew J. Keller
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title International Journal of Remote Sensing
Series Number
Index ID 70118051
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Wetlands Research Center