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Sun, Liya and Schulz, Karsten (2015): The Improvement of Land Cover Classification by Thermal Remote Sensing. In: Remote Sensing, Vol. 7, No. 7: pp. 8368-8390 [PDF, 4MB]

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Land cover classification has been widely investigated in remote sensing for agricultural, ecological and hydrological applications. Landsat images with multispectral bands are commonly used to study the numerous classification methods in order to improve the classification accuracy. Thermal remote sensing provides valuable information to investigate the effectiveness of the thermal bands in extracting land cover patterns. k-NN and Random Forest algorithms were applied to both the single Landsat 8 image and the time series Landsat 4/5 images for the Attert catchment in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, trained and validated by the ground-truth reference data considering the three level classification scheme from COoRdination of INformation on the Environment (CORINE) using the 10-fold cross validation method. The accuracy assessment showed that compared to the visible and near infrared (VIS/NIR) bands, the time series of thermal images alone can produce comparatively reliable land cover maps with the best overall accuracy of 98.7% to 99.1% for Level 1 classification and 93.9% to 96.3% for the Level 2 classification. In addition, the combination with the thermal band improves the overall accuracy by 5% and 6% for the single Landsat 8 image in Level 2 and Level 3 category and provides the best classified results with all seven bands for the time series of Landsat TM images.

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