A combined spectral and object-based approach to transparent cloud removal in an operational setting for Landsat ETM+

Gary Watmough, Peter M. Atkinson, Craig W. Hutton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The automated cloud cover assessment (ACCA) algorithm has provided automated estimates of cloud cover for the Landsat ETM+ mission since 2001. However, due to the lack of a band around 1.375 μm, cloud edges and transparent clouds such as cirrus cannot be detected. Use of Landsat ETM+ imagery for terrestrial land analysis is further hampered by the relatively long revisit period due to a nadir only viewing sensor. In this study, the ACCA threshold parameters were altered to minimise omission errors in the cloud masks. Object-based analysis was used to reduce the commission errors from the extended cloud filters. The method resulted in the removal of optically thin cirrus cloud and cloud edges which are often missed by other methods in sub-tropical areas. Although not fully automated, the principles of the method developed here provide an opportunity for using otherwise sub-optimal or completely unusable Landsat ETM+ imagery for operational applications. Where specific images are required for particular research goals the method can be used to remove cloud and transparent cloud helping to reduce bias in subsequent land cover classifications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-227
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
Volume13
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes

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