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Quantifying the Components of Impervious Surfaces

April 3, 2007

This study's objectives were to (1) determine the relative contribution of impervious surface individual components by collecting digital information from high-resolution imagery, 1-meter or better; and to (2) determine which of the more advanced techniques, such as spectral unmixing or the application of coefficients to land use or land cover data, was the most suitable method that could be used by State and local governments as well as Federal agencies to efficiently measure the imperviousness in any given watershed or area of interest.

The components of impervious surfaces, combined from all the watersheds and time periods from objective one were the following: buildings 29.2-percent, roads 28.3-percent, parking lots 24.6-percent; with the remaining three totaling 14-percent - driveways, sidewalks, and other, where other were any other features that were not contained within the first five.

Results from objective two were spectral unmixing techniques will ultimately be the most efficient method of determining imperviousness, but are not yet accurate enough as it is critical to achieve accuracy better than 10-percent of the truth, of which the method is not consistently accomplishing as observed in this study. Of the three techniques in coefficient application tested, land use coefficient application was not practical, while if the last two methods, coefficients applied to land cover data, were merged, their end results could be to within 5-percent or better, of the truth. Until the spectral unmixing technique has been further refined, land cover coefficients should be used, which offer quick results, but not current as they were developed for the 1992 National Land Characteristics Data.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2006
Title Quantifying the Components of Impervious Surfaces
DOI 10.3133/ofr20071008
Authors Janet S. Tilley, E. Terrence Slonecker
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2007-1008
Index ID ofr20071008
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Eastern Region Geographic Services

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