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Comparing Landsat Dynamic Surface Water Extent to alternative methods of measuring inundation in developing waterbird habitats

October 12, 2022

This study investigates the applicability of the Landsat Dynamic Surface Water Extent (DSWE) science product for waterbird habitat modeling in multiple non-canopied habitat types. We compare surface water distribution estimates derived from DSWE to two site-specific survey methods: visual surveys and digitized aerial imagery. These site-specific surveys were conducted on Poplar Island, a restoration island project in the Chesapeake Bay, USA. Visual surveys were collected bimonthly from 2006 – 2013, and digitized aerial imagery was collected annually from 2006 – 2015. As a restoration island, Poplar Island presents a unique opportunity to analyze DSWE in a rapidly changing site. We structure our analysis based on the procedural development of individual sub-island cells developed from unconsolidated dredge material into fully restored wetlands that have independent hydrologic connection to the surrounding bay. Each development status is analyzed using our three DSWE classifications: Open Water (OW), a conservative estimate; Wetland Inclusive (WI), an aggressive estimate; and Development Dependent (DD), a landcover adaptive estimate. The OW classification consistently underestimates surface water coverage especially in the more complex, fully developed cells. The WI classification is better able to capture the tidal channels in these cells, but marginally overestimates surface water coverage in more sparsely vegetated cells. The DD classification does not significantly improve upon the estimations of the WI classification. Our data indicate that DSWE can be a capable alternative to our site-specific survey methods. However, the product is limited by Landsat’s 30 m spatial resolution, especially in more structurally complex wetlands. A recommended classification method for characterizing waterbird habitats would depend on the goals and targeted scale of analysis, for which DSWE may be a viable option.

Publication Year 2022
Title Comparing Landsat Dynamic Surface Water Extent to alternative methods of measuring inundation in developing waterbird habitats
DOI 10.1016/j.rsase.2022.100845
Authors John B. Taylor, Jeffery D. Sullivan, Claire S. Teitelbaum, Jan G. Reese, Diann Prosser
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Remote Sensing Applications: Society and Environment
Index ID 70237388
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Eastern Ecological Science Center